Brexit: 1,000 new veterinary and customs inspectors set to be hired

Approximately 1,000 new veterinary and customs inspectors are set to be hired to deal with Brexit, An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has announced this evening.

He made the announcement after a Cabinet meeting concluded this evening in Co. Kerry.

The move signals Ireland’s Brexit preparations upping a gear, with Brexit now eight months away, the Taoiseach added.

Speaking to RTE News, he said: “We do think that with Brexit now eight months away and growing uncertainty about whether it will be possible to get a withdrawal agreement through Westminister, that we do need to change the gear and up our preparations when it comes to Brexit.

“That’s going to involve communicating with the public and industry about what we are doing. Also, it will mean preparations beginning now at our ports and airports.

“That includes places like Dublin Port, Dublin Airport, Rosslare Port and Shannon Airport preparing for a change in the rules of trade between Britain and Ireland in January 2021.

What that involves obviously is preparing for and hiring veterinary inspectors to carry out vital sanitary checks on agricultural products and plant-based products coming in from Britain and also customs inspectors.

“We estimate that the number of people we will have to hire over the course of the next year is about 1,000; that’s customs and veterinary inspectors to prepare our ports and airports for Brexit,” the Taoiseach said.

Border situation

Continuing, he stated that the chances of a ‘no deal’ scenario – the UK crashing out of the European Union next March with no deal – is “very unlikely“.

“But we have to be prepared for that possibility. People would expect any government to be prudent and to prepare for things – even though they are very unlikely; we need to prepare for that contingency.

Preparations we are making won’t be along the land border between Northern Ireland and [the Republic of] Ireland. We have made it very clear to everyone that there won’t be a hard border. Nobody wants that; not in London, Brussels, Dublin or Belfast.

“They are not the kind of preparations we are making. The preparations we are making are at the ports and airports. We have been preparing for this in the background, doing desktop preparations for months now – if not years,” he concluded.