Friday 20 April 2018

Revealed: The contingency plan drawn up by Irish officials in the event of a Brexit

Britain's decision to leave the European Union has sent shockwaves around the world - nowhere more than here

Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks during a press conference in Dublin, after Britain voted to leave the European Union: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny speaks during a press conference in Dublin, after Britain voted to leave the European Union: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Group Political Editor

IRISH officials are to embark on a series of trade missions to Northern Europe, USA, China and India in an effort to combat any financial impact of the Brexit.

Details of Ireland ‘Plan B’ show that the Government intends to carry out a series of reviews in relation to trading markets, foreign direct investment opportunities and diplomatic relationships.

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks outside 10 Downing Street, London, with wife Samantha . Photo credit should read: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire
Prime Minister David Cameron speaks outside 10 Downing Street, London, with wife Samantha . Photo credit should read: Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

It states that preserving the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK “will be a key priority” during the negotiations that will lead to Britain’s formal exit from the EU.

Enterprise Ireland will also host an International Markets week in October in Dublin, to provide Irish exporters with access to its overseas market advisors.

Read more: The in-depth story so far: 'Explosive shock' as Britain votes to leave EU, Cameron quits and global turmoil unleashed

The State body will also run an information campaign and regional seminars to help business understand the implications of the referendum result.

These will provide guidance on issues including: the implications of trading with the UK, improving competitiveness, reducing supply chain costs, accessing funding, finance, foreign exchange, employment regulations and legal issues.

It will also provide information for clients on key areas of opportunity such as Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull and Sheffield where the UK Government has prioritised investment in infrastructure development and urban renewal.

And assistance will be provided to Irish companies exporting to the UK to improve their competitiveness in the markets.

Among the key points in the Brexit Contingency Plan are:

* The Department of Finance will review its Summer Economic Statement which promised €1bn for tax cuts and spending increases.

* A dedicated unit has been established in the Department of Agriculture to work on relevant sectoral issues and the Minister will convene a consultative committee of stakeholders to ensure a full exchange of information as the negotiations proceed.

Read more: Exclusive: Bertie Ahern - I’ll return to politics if there’s a vote for Ireland to leave EU

* An assessment will be prepared for Government identifying the potential for new foreign direct investment arising from the UK leaving the EU and identifying actions to address any capacity limitations.

* While ultimately dependent on the outcome of EU-UK trade negotiations, analysis will be deepened on options for possible customs and excise controls, including the role of modern technology, with a view to minimising impediments to trade.

* Irish Embassy London will maintain extensive political contacts in the coming days and weeks. Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to seek a meeting with David Cameron.

* The Embassy and Consulates in North America, and the rest of our diplomatic network, are being tasked with extensive communications and outreach to ensure that there is no ambiguity in relation to Ireland’s status and ongoing commitment as a Member of the EU.

* In the lead-in to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, security and policing issues will be addressed in future meetings between law enforcement agencies on the island of Ireland and the UK.

* Tourism Ireland and Failte Ireland will be tasked with delivering consistent marketing communications that while the UK are still members of the European Union, travel between the UK and on the island of Ireland remains free of any additional barriers.

* Diversification and new market strategies will be considered by Government for development of alternative export markets where possible. Positions will be developed for EU-UK negotiations highlighting the unique trade inter-dependence of the UK and Ireland.

* Border counties that may be affected by a prolonged sterling devaluation will receive special consideration and relevant regional Action Plans for Jobs will be revised accordingly.

* Preserving the benefits of the Common Travel Area will be a key priority in the context of UK-EU negotiations. A detailed assessment of options and bilateral discussions with the UK will inform Ireland’s position in advance of formal EU-UK negotiations.

* A detailed assessment of migration impacts on Ireland will be undertaken on a cross-Departmental basis.

Read more: Taoiseach says no need for Britain to start Brexit process 'until at least October'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “It is important to be clear: the UK has not actually left the EU.  Until it formally withdraws from the Union, the UK remains a full Member, with all of its existing rights and obligations.

“Today’s result marks the beginning of a new phase of negotiated withdrawal – one that is expected to take place over at least two years and possibly longer.”

Mr Kenny said businesses can continue to trade with the UK and people can travel between the two islands “as normal”.

Read more: Post Brexit: Scottish referendum, Boris booed and all the other fallout

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) realsied a statement this evening welcoming the Government's initial response to today’s decision.

"It is too early to predict the full effect that today’s decision will have on Irish tourism given the uncertainty around the future relationship between the UK and the EU," read the statement. 

"While Ireland’s competitive tourism offering will help mitigate any negative impact, there is a risk that economic uncertainty and a weaker Sterling could impact on visitor numbers from the UK, which accounts for approximately 40% of overseas visitors and is our largest source of inbound tourists.

"The decision also creates uncertainty for Irish businesses that trade between the two countries, which poses risks for the domestic economy in Ireland and, in turn, Irish consumer confidence and domestic tourism."

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