Government must explain protections for most exposed industry post-Brexit

Fianna Fáil has demanded that the Government must immediately explain how it will protect industries most exposed if a hard Brexit occurs after it emerged a series of sectoral analysis reports, due last year, will not now be published until summertime.

Fianna Fáil Brexit spokesman Stephen Donnelly insisted a clear, cross-departmental protection plan needs to be made public now in response to a Government report, due today, which will suggest a hard Brexit could cost €18bn and 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Under plans first put forward by former taoiseach Enda Kenny and again last year by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, the Government was scheduled to draw up and release at least five separate sectoral analysis reports on the impact Brexit will have on the most vulnerable sectors in this country.

The reports were to be made public in the second half of last year, after 12 months of assessment, on the impact Brexit will have on tourism, fisheries, the beef industry, and other areas.

Mr Kenny and former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald had, last year, both separately said the reports would be made public by the end of 2017, a timeline also indicated by Mr Varadkar.

However, in a parliamentary question response to Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins, Business Minister Heather Humphreys said the reports were not due to be released until summer at the earliest.

Mr Donnelly told the Irish Examiner that the delay in releasing the vital reports has become unacceptable. He said the Government must come clean on exactly what protections it can offer industries at risk of a Brexit backlash.

“These reports are meant to be spelling out the potential exposure sector by sector, and then spelling out the pinch points for each sector, and how that’s meant to be addressed,” said Mr Donnelly.

“Way back in a bygone era when Enda Kenny was taoiseach, he kept telling us the reports are coming, they’re coming, they’re coming, but they haven’t arrived.

“The clock is ticking here, and I don’t believe the Government is being honest on the protections it has in place, or if they even know what emergency plans they have for each sector if Britain decides to just up-and-leave without a deal before March 2019.”

When asked about the Copenhagen Economists report on Brexit commissioned by the Government and due to be published after cabinet today, he added: “I used to work in management consulting, not dissimilar to Copenhagen Economists, and while we haven’t seen this report I’d be astounded if it has specific plans for each sector.

“Let’s say the British decide this summer we’re done, we’re out of here, without a deal. That could happen with Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

“We should be able to say fine, let’s walk to the war room and execute the contingency plan. But there’s no evidence we have any contingency plan in place.”

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