My Department has been actively participating in the Whole-of-Government approach to preparedness and contingency planning, and we have been working very closely with colleagues in other Departments and agencies to address in particular the requirements that will arise in relation to the implementation at ports and airports of import controls on agrifood and fishery products coming from the UK. This process has moved into the implementation phase, and practical arrangements are being put in place to ensure that our legal obligations are fulfilled as efficiently as possible while also ensuring the minimum possible disruption to trading arrangements.
Work in this regard has been focused on three key areas, namely, infrastructure, staffing and information technology, and in three key locations, that is Dublin Port, Rosslare Port and Dublin Airport.
On infrastructure, we have been engaging very closely with the Office of Public Works, the Department of Transport, the Department of Health and the Revenue Commissioners in relation to the physical facilities that will be required to carry out import controls at the three locations. Areas being addressed here include inspection facilities, staff accommodation, parking, and logistics and traffic management.
On staffing, the Department is again working very effectively with Customs and others to provide the resources needed to apply the necessary controls and I am confident that the state will be in a position to apply controls at the appropriate time.
On information technology, my Department has established a project to coordinate the identification and delivery of ICT Infrastructure and systems to support the additional requirements of staff engaged in control processes in Dublin Port, Rosslare and Dublin Airport. The delivery timelines in the event of a disorderly Brexit are extremely challenging, but officials are working with the greatest urgency to ensure that the required ICT services are in place by 29th March.
Throughout all of this work, the focus of my Department continues to be on the need to discharge our legal responsibilities in relation to the control of imports from a sanitary and phytosanitary perspective and the certification of exports, while minimising the potential problems that hauliers and others are likely to face.