Case for exemption from state aid rules in light of the now imminent hard Brexit between Britain and the EU

European Union officials should consider making Ireland exempt from State aid rules in a bid to protect our economy in light of the now imminent hard Brexit between Britain and the EU.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin made the point at the second All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit yesterday, as fresh calls were made for the Government to re-emphasise the country’s demands, block any prospect of a hard border with Northern Ireland and further protect the economy.

Speaking at the crowded event at Dublin Castle, Mr Martin said recent events have proven that Brexit poses serious risks to sectors of the economy which are sensitive to attack.

Calling for a “transitory exemption” from State aid rules that govern the common market, he said EU officials must introduce once-off measures to protect this country’s interests: “Where necessary we should seek a transitionary exemption from state aid rules to support diversification of products and markets.

“We also have to step-change research activity, training and agency supports to be offered on a sector-by-sector basis. ”

The call was made as both Mr Martin and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams warned any plans to put in place customs posts on the border with Northern Ireland must be scrapped as they insisted any prospect of a hard border cannot be allowed.

Speaking after the Irish Examiner revealed earlier this week that Revenue officials have drawn up plans for Revenue border station sites, Mr Adams said the move must be clearly rejected by Government.

Mr Adams — who also called for a White Paper on the wider Brexit controversy — said it was worrying Taoiseach Enda Kenny did not appear to know about the situation when questioned over the plans at last Thursday’s finance committee.

However, asked about the issue by reporters, Finance Minister Michael Noonan said Revenue is “only doing their job when examining different contingencies” and repeated the view that there will be “no restoration of a land border whatsoever here”.

The All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit was also attended by Mr Kenny, who told a 500-strong crowd — which included Sinn Féin’s Stormont leader Michelle O’ Neill, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, Labour leader Brendan Howlin, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan and AAA-PBP TD Paul Murphy — the Government is continuing to push Ireland’s agenda in Europe.

Mr Kenny declined to speak to the media present, other than to say he was having an “absolutely wonderful” day as he entered his Government car.

At a separate jobs launch in Dublin which saw computer company Microsoft announce 600 jobs for the capital — during which he also failed to take questions — Mr Kenny said: “In respect of Brexit, this is probably the most significant challenge, economically, facing this country from a negotiation perspective since 1939.

“And it really means that the consequences have to be considered in all their range, and we’ve got to be creative and imaginative and indeed have a lot of intricate political negotiations to get this right.”

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