All-island forum to discuss Brexit

The Government is to set up an all-island forum to discuss the impact of Brexit.

The development comes as former taoiseach John Bruton says Ireland needs to be prepared for the worst outcome from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

The fall-out from Brexit will be discussed today at the North-South Ministerial Council, being held in Dublin. Enda Kenny will discuss elements of the all-island forum to debate Brexit.

Health Minister Simon Harris announced details of the new forum yesterday, saying it would cover areas of mutual interest, including trade, investment and health.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said that both the Leave and Remain sides in the north should be included in the forum.

Meanwhile, Mr Bruton said Ireland needed to prepare for and discuss the worst scenarios from Brexit.

Ireland needed to now argue what would be “good for Europe,” said Mr Bruton. His comments come in the wake of Mr Kenny siding with the UK over its needs when it come to Brexit.

Mr Bruton warned of the worst case scenario for Ireland if a swift Brexit took place. This could lead to significant tariffs being applied across the border and in the UK, which in turn would lead to greater costs for Irish exporters.

Political relations between Ireland and Britain, especially regarding the North, would also be more difficult, he added.

Ireland needed to “prepare for the worst outcome”, said Mr Bruton. This included examining how costs here might increase, he added.

Meanwhile, June exchequer figures published today will likely show the Government continues to tap a rising bounty in tax revenues, providing the fiscal room to cut taxes if it so chooses in the budget.

However, analysts question whether the wisdom of the Government promising tax cuts at a time when Ireland should be preparing itself for any backwash from the unexpected outcome of the Brexit vote, which could lead to a recession in the UK.

Alan McQuaid, chief economist at Merrion Capital, said: “A cautious approach is probably the best approach.”

It would be wiser not to commit to spend money on tax cuts with money that may not be in the kitty if the UK were to slide into a recession, Mr McQuaid said.

Tax and spend returns for the first six months of the year are likely to show about 10% more in revenues in its coffers than this time last year. Snapshots of the Irish economy taken before the Brexit vote and published last week suggest manufacturing industry continues to expand and consumers are spending more in the shops.

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