The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine continues to participate actively in the whole-of-Government approach to preparedness and contingency planning for Brexit.

The Government sanctioned in the region of €4 million for the commencement of a phased process for the recruitment of additional staff to carry out increased volumes of import controls and export certification arising from Brexit.

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.

This is a according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, who was responding to questions on the matter during Dáil proceedings last week.

He was asked by Fianna Fáil’s deputy Lisa Chambers to highlight the number of additional staff that are trained and in place to deal with Brexit, and the number expected to be in place by October 31, 2019.

Volume of controls

Minister Creed pointed out that his department had previously carried out an extensive analysis exercise to establish the potential volumes of controls that will need to be carried out.

This exercise has been used, where appropriate, to guide relevant planning in relation to putting in place the staff that will be required.

He continued: “Regarding staffing requirements – my department has sought to use a combination of recruitment, redeployment and temporary flexible solutions such as contracted veterinary services, where appropriate and as necessary.

“Given the level of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, my department’s approach has been to adopt, where possible, options that offer a degree of flexibility such as internal short-term redeployment and contracted services.

“We must ensure, in conjunction and cooperation with our recruitment partners, the Public Appointments Service (PAS), that avenues for more permanent recruitment are available and can be drawn from as necessary.”

What is required?

Minister Creed went on to say that the approach was being adapted with a view to addressing requirements in the near to medium term across various possible contingencies “from the negative end of the spectrum in terms of a no-deal Brexit to more benign contingencies of a Brexit based on a deal between the EU and the UK”.

Overall, the key grades where the majority of deployment will occur are in veterinary and portal inspector roles on the animals and products of animal origin side.

He continued: “Agricultural and forestry inspectors and portal inspectors on the plant health and forestry side will also be required.

“In the context of an initial uncertain period in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it will be necessary to carefully observe how operational arrangements with respect to staffing are bedding down.

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“Furthermore, it will also be necessary to observe how a no-deal Brexit might evolve given the ongoing potential staffing effects.

“I remain confident that my department is in a position to deliver the services required in terms of both imports and exports at the appropriate time.”