Rural areas 'will be first to feel pain' from the harsh realities of Brexit

Warning: Stephen Kinsella said rural Ireland would be the first to suffer

Anne-Marie Walsh

Brexit has begun to bite and rural Ireland will be the first to suffer the pain, a leading economist warned.

Stephen Kinsella said that alarmingly poor UK growth results showed "Brexit in action" and warned of a rural shock on the way here.

The UK economy suffered a rude awakening last week, as it emerged that growth fell 0.2pc between April and June despite economists and the Bank of England predicting zero growth.

"A loss of business confidence, combined with a slowing real economy, is exactly what has been predicted by many economists," the associate professor of economics at the University of Limerick said.

"The effects on Ireland are also fairly predictable. Brexit is a sectoral shock to the Irish economy."

He said the sectors most affected would be in agrifood, which would make it a rural shock as well.

Siptu head of policy Marie Sherlock said the country was seeing an intensification of the uncertainty that we had been living with for more than three years.

"We are absolutely concerned about our workers' livelihoods and ability to sustain decent incomes," she said.

"We're already seeing a thinning of orders among some of the firms we deal with in agrifood, services and manufacturing, and that is symptomatic of the general uncertainty.

"Another very big concern is the weakness of sterling and how that affects firms' profitability and the pressure that imposes on their cost base. Any concerns we've had for a period of time are ratcheting up now.

"The probability of Brexit is increasing by the day. It has hung over us for over three years now and at varying times increased and decreased.

"We're just a few months out from the October 31 deadline and partly because of the political message emanating from Britain, I think we can safely say the prospects of a hard Brexit are very high at this stage."

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry also warned that since the Brexit vote, vehicle sales had declined over three years.