Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Ceisteanna (84)

Brendan Smith


84. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if there is co-ordination with Departments and local statutory agencies on preparations for Brexit; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4687/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Detailed Brexit preparedness and contingency work is being taken forward on a whole of Government basis, across all Government Departments and Agencies, co-ordinated by officials in my Department, working closely with the Department of the Taoiseach.

In accordance with the Government decision of 11 December 2018 to give greater immediate priority to preparations for a disorderly Brexit, and requiring Departments to urgently take forward all necessary work on that basis, no deal Brexit planning is coordinated by the Secretary General to the Government.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade chairs and co-chairs a number of coordination structures and groups put in place to assist with advancing Brexit preparations and contingency planning. These structures and groups facilitate a whole of Government approach to Brexit preparedness and contingency planning.

The Assistant Secretary Group on no deal Brexit Planning, co-chaired with the Department of the Taoiseach, meets on a very regular basis in Government buildings. The Senior Officials Group (SOG) on Brexit-related legislation, also co-chaired with the Department of the Taoiseach, meets on a very regular basis in Government buildings.

The Inter-Departmental Group on the EU and Brexit is a fortnightly senior level meeting chaired by DFAT where departments update on European Union and Brexit developments in their remit.

All relevant Government Departments are invited to attend these Groups. In addition, the Office of the Attorney General and the Office of Parliamentary Counsel also attend the Brexit-related legislation SOG.

The Landbridge Project Group first met in October 2017 and meets on an ad hoc basis to review issues relating to the UK Landbridge. It is attended by Government Departments with particular concerns related to use of the UK Landbridge.

Brexit Coordinators Group is a weekly meeting of Brexit coordinators from Government Departments. It has met since 2017.

In addition, the Brexit Stakeholder Forum was convened in September 2017 as a means to inform and explain the Government’s position during the Article 50 negotiations on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. The Forum brings together key stakeholders with a view to providing regular updates on the progression of the negotiations; facilitating the sharing of different sectoral concerns regarding Brexit; and providing a platform for the interaction of sectoral and EU expertise so as to underpin the Government’s comprehensive and cohesive response to Brexit. Among the key stakeholders in attendance at the Forum are IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Intertrade Ireland, Bord Bia and Bord Iascaigh Mhara.

Government Departments and local statutory agencies have also liaised and coordinated together through the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready communications campaign, launched in September 2018. As part of the campaign, which is ongoing, Getting Ireland Brexit Ready events showcased the extensive work of the Government’s agencies, bringing together this experience and expertise in a ‘one stop shop’ for citizens and businesses in particular. Over 2,500 citizens and businesses attended the events held throughout October and November in Cork, Galway, Dublin, Monaghan, Limerick and Letterkenny.

A large number of local and national statutory authorities were represented at the Getting Ireland Brexit Ready events and were available to advise citizens and businesses on preparing for Brexit, including Enterprise Ireland, Inter Trade Ireland, Local Enterprise Offices, the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland, the Health & Safety Authority, the National Standards Authority of Ireland, IDA Ireland, Bord Bia, Bord Iascaigh Mhara, Fáilte Ireland, and Údarás na Gaeltachta.

The work of statutory Agencies has been central to the Government's approach to preparing businesses for Brexit and providing the necessary supports and assistance. As part of this work, Enterprise Ireland provided €74m in grant aid to Brexit exposed firms in 2018. In addition, 151 of Enterprise Ireland’s Brexit Be Prepared grants, and 657 of InterTrade Ireland’s Brexit Start to Plan voucher schemes, have been approved to date. In the agri-food sector Bord Bia's Brexit Barometer plays a vital role in identifying the key risks facing the sector.