Government must do more to temper impact of Brexit

04 July 2017

Labour member of the Seanad Brexit Committee, Senator Ged Nash, has welcomed the committee’s report and called for a number of measures to be introduced to temper the impact Brexit will have on Ireland.

“Every party has been talking about Brexit, but only Labour is proposing tangible actions that would protect Irish jobs against a hard Brexit. For example, we believe that the €1 billion rainy day fund must be deployed for capital investment from 2019, and a €250 million Brexit Trade Adjustment Fund set up to directly support business suffering from trade upheaval with the UK.

“For many months the Labour Party has been calling for changes to the Stability and Growth Pact fiscal rules. We have followed that call with action, and the Party of European Socialists has established a working group, at our request to bring forward actionable proposals. Fine Gael now needs to take a lead on this with their own colleagues in the EPP. Our economy is growing, as is our population. We need to invest more. We need to Brexit proof our economy. The proposed extra €2.65 billion for capital spending is not enough when you factor in the demands on the budget, and construction inflation. The Rainy Day fund of €1 billion a year should be deployed in 2019 for investment.

“As Labour spokesperson on Labour Affairs and Workers’ Rights, I am anxious that an Early Warning System is introduced to help protect Irish workers and industries that are vulnerable to Brexit.

“The all-Island warning system would bring together trade unions, employers and other stakeholders to identify sectors and firms at particular risk as market conditions change and adapt.

“What we do know however, is that some sectors will be particularly exposed to market shocks as a result of Brexit. We need to move fast to identify these, and ensure that the proper supports are in place to support the sectors and workers in the face of such challenges. If a company is in trouble, there should be a clear pathway in place for State agencies to be informed, and the necessary supports put in place, even where companies are not Enterprise Ireland or Local Enterprise Office clients.

“As the Labour Senator for Louth, I have long argued that the Border Counties are in a unique position when it comes to Brexit, with many businesses relying on Northern Ireland for trade. However, as we are now facing a situation where the devaluation of Sterling is likely to be a semi-permanent feature of the landscape and a hard border may be in place, it is clear that a long term strategy needs to be developed to counter the effects.

“The Government should also seek to amend the rules of the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund so that it is available to retrain any workers who lose their jobs due to Brexit. We are also calling for the Fund to be used to help companies- identified by the Early Warning System- to stem losses and re-skill staff to adapt to new market conditions.

“Brexit will have a huge impact on the Border area and we need to put in place policy responses now. I am calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise and Innovation, and the Taoiseach to pursue these sensible solutions before it is too late.”

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