Fitzmaurice: ‘Ireland facing unknown and difficult period’

Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice has called for safeguards for Irish agri-food exports if a no-deal Brexit takes affect.

In particular, the Roscommon-Galway TD urged the Government to co-operate with its European partners to ensure that Aid to Private Storage schemes or interventions for Irish agricultural exports are put in place if a withdrawal agreement between Britain and the EU is not reached.

“Ireland is facing into an unknown and difficult period over the next few months,” warned Fitzmaurice.

As people know, the beef trade in Ireland has been on its knees for the past few months. Given our dependency on the UK market, a Brexit deal which would impede the export of beef across the Irish Sea would cause chaos here.

Fitzmaurice is calling on Michael Creed (Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine), Phil Hogan (European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development), Ireland’s MEPs and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to support these plans and ensure they are implemented if needs be.

“Ireland has a lot to lose when it comes to Brexit. In 2018, Irish agri-food exports reached a value in excess of €12 billion, with value of exports to the UK amounting to €4.5 billion,” he said.

He added: “We have to make sure there is a release valve for all of this, in terms of intervention or Aid to Private Storage schemes.

This is the only way forward and these measures must be put in place at proper prices that will make it workable for all farmers.

According to Fitzmaurice, much of the damage that the agricultural sector faces can be avoided if “Commissioner Hogan and Minister Creed are prepared to stand up to the mark”.

“These measure need to be ready to be rolled out when and if they are required,” concluded Fitzmaurice.

The UK House of Commons is scheduled to vote on the withdrawal agreement tomorrow, Tuesday, January 15.

It is generally accepted that the agreement will not have the necessary support to pass.