Brexit bound: Creed updates Dail on port and airport controls

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, has moved to reassure and update the agri-food sector on strides being taken to mitigate against the risk of a crash-out Brexit.

Speaking this afternoon (January 17) in Leinster House, Minister Creed stated that regardless of the kind of future relationship that the EU has with the UK post-Brexit, “things are going to change“.

Pointing to new customs procedures and regulatory requirements along agri-food and fisheries supply chains, he reiterated that the Government will be working to keep the impact of these to a minimum.

He also underlined that there may be additional export certification requirements in some areas.

Ports and Airports

In particular, the minister highlighted the requirements that will arise in relation to the implementation at ports and airports of import controls on agri-food products coming from the UK.

“These requirements are significant, and arise in relation to the carrying out of documentary, identity and physical checks on imports of: animals; plants; and products of animal and plant origin, as set out in EU legislation.

“The department has carried out an extensive analysis exercise, based on examination of trade and container movement data, together with close consultation with stakeholder organisations and individual companies, to establish – as best we can – the likely volumes of controls that will need to be carried out.

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“This has been a difficult exercise, given the lack of detailed data as a result of the UK’s participation in the single market up to this point – but, we have based our assumptions and planning on what we believe are reasonable estimates of the likely volumes.”

The minister outlined that work in this regard has been focused on three key areas: infrastructure; staffing; and information technology in three key locations – namely 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.”

The minister pointed out that areas being addressed here include: inspection facilities; staff accommodation; parking and logistics; and traffic management.

“This work had been proceeding in any event in the context of dealing with the central-case scenario, and has been adapted in order to meet the requirements in the event of a disorderly Brexit.

On staffing, we have also used the data analysis exercise to guide our planning in relation to putting in place the staff that will be required to carry out the range of controls needed.

“These controls are carried out by a combination of portal inspectorate staff and, where necessary, the appropriate veterinary and technical supervision.

“The department is 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,” he said.

Connectivity supports

On the information technology front, the department has established a project to coordinate the identification and delivery of ICT (information and communication technology) infrastructure and systems to support the additional requirements of staff engaged in control processes in Dublin Port, Rosslare and Dublin Airport.

This team is in the process of sourcing and configuring additional ICT equipment and enhancing existing software systems to support new requirements.

My department is also working closely with OPW, Government networks and a number of telecom providers to ensure that there is adequate network connectivity in place.

“The delivery timelines in the event of a disorderly Brexit are extremely challenging, but officials are working with the greatest urgency to ensure the required ICT services are in place by March 29.

“Throughout all of this work, the focus has been on the need to discharge the department’s legal responsibilities, while ensuring the minimum possible disruption to trade,” he said.