The result of the UK referendum has the potential to give rise to significant challenges for the Irish agri-food sector, particularly in a north-south context, and these are very much to the fore of the analysis that my Department has been conducting in the lead-up to, and in the period since, the referendum. Areas that will be affected include the veterinary, trading and animal health arrangements between North and South. There will also be very significant implications for the fishing fleet in both jurisdictions. I met my Northern counterpart, Michelle McIlveen, MLA, Minister for Agriculture, the Environment and Rural Affairs, at the North South Plenary Ministerial meeting which took place in Dublin Castle last week. I agreed with her that our officials should meet at the earliest opportunity to work through some of the potential issues involved, and I am committed to ensuring that our Departments work well together in the coming months in the best interests of farmers and the wider industry.
It is important also to emphasise that the trading relationship remains unchanged, and that the precise impact of a UK exit will not be apparent until the post-exit relationship has been agreed. In the meantime I look forward to ongoing dialogue in the context of the Government’s co-operation with its counterparts in Northern Ireland and in the UK more generally.