'Absolute chaos' looming for firms at Irish ports, warns Cork medical supplies firm

'Absolute chaos' looming for firms at Irish ports, warns Cork medical supplies firm
Owen Curtin, chairman and founding director of Healthcare21

A soft or hard Brexit will be damaging for Ireland, with too little focus on the east-west corridor to Europe, a Cork medical supplies firm has said.

Owen Curtin, chairman and founding director of Healthcare21, which has 450 staff, a turnover of €150m and operations in Ireland, the UK, Germany and Austria, said he feared the Government had not concentrated on the east-west connection with all the focus on the Irish border backstop.

He also warned that with Brexit looming, the UK would become more of a competitor for talent.

Mr Curtin said he foresaw "absolute chaos" at Irish ports when it comes to managing customs.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a hard or soft Brexit. Whatever the case, it will be damaging from Ireland, business and the economy,” he said.

The landbridge between the Republic and continental Europe is “being forgotten”, Mr Curtin said.

"The Irish Government’s focus seems to be firmly on the backstop between the North and South and while that is extremely important to get right, from a trading perspective, and for SMEs in particular, imports and exports are going east-west predominantly. All our exports have to go on the landbridge between Ireland, the UK and Europe,” he said.

He said more incentives had to be given for entrepreneurs and would-be startups in order to fight off UK competition for talent.

"If you are an entrepreneur you end up paying the top rate of tax. In contrast, the UK encourages entrepreneurs to set up businesses and many people in Ireland are being economically forced to set-up their business in the North or the UK," Mr Curtin said.

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