State aid may be available for firms

The Government may make millions of euro worth of special state aid available for firms at risk of a Brexit backlash due to growing concerns of the damage that could be caused to the economy.

State aid may be available for firms

A Department of Jobs spokesperson confirmed the move is being considered as the minister in charge, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, was last night accused of being “nowhere to be seen”.

The Irish Examiner yesterday reported that Fianna Fáil and the Small Firms Association are seeking millions of euro in supports to cope with the likely economic problems caused by Brexit.

The move is being sought because of concerns the knock-on effect of Britain’s departure from the EU could cause havoc to the economy here.

Asked about Fianna Fáil’s plan, a senior Government source said the party had not clarified where this extra money would be found or what existing services may have to be cut.

In a statement last night, the Department of Jobs confirmed the emergency fund is being considered as part of an external report which will be published early next month.

A spokesperson said a report on “any short-, medium-, and long-term challenges of Brexit” is being drawn up by the Behaviour & Attitudes research firm and is due be published by February 10.

The news came as Fianna Fáil jobs spokesman Niall Collins accused Ms Mitchell O’Connor of being “nowhere to be seen” in the 24 hours after Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit speech on Tuesday.

Lashing out at the “silence” from Ms Mitchell O’Connor, who is responsible for trade policy, during “the greatest threat in decades to Irish exports”, he said that despite the “talk of playing a good game”, businesses do not know “if anyone is in charge”.

Meanwhile, Dara Murphy, the European affairs minister, has issued a staunch defence of Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s handling of the Brexit fallout, pleading with party TDs to back him while talks with Britain and the EU take place.

In an impassioned speech to colleagues during Fine Gael’s weekly parliamentary party meeting which was described as “bizarre” by one attendee and “enough to make me sick” by another, he said Mr Kenny is held in the highest regard throughout Europe and is the only person who can address the situation.

Claiming he would have been “embarrassed” to make the comments in front of Mr Kenny, who was attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Mr Murphy urged Fine Gael TDs and senators to fully support their leader.

While a cohort of Fine Gael TDs support Mr Kenny’s approach to Brexit, a number of TDs present last night disputed Mr Murphy’s remarks.

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