Irish government launches campaign to help businesses prepare for Brexit

The Republic's minister for foreign affairs Simon Coveney, right, and his press advisor Chris Donoghue arrive at Government Buildings in Dublin, for a Brexit briefing. Picture by Niall Carson, Press Association

The Republic's foreign affairs minister said negotiations on the Brexit withdrawal deal needed to be ramped up after Theresa May told European leaders Chequers was the only route to a deal.

Simon Coveney said that while Theresa May's government did not agree with the European Union's text for the withdrawal treaty, it had failed to bring its own alternative.

Describing the consequences of a no-deal Brexit as "damaging and severe", Mr Coveney said there was an onus on the negotiation teams to find a solution.

Mr Coveney made the comments as he unveiled a campaign to help businesses in the Republic prepare for Brexit, despite not knowing the details of any deal.

A number of workshops will be held across Ireland next month in a bid to provide a "one-stop-shop" for people and businesses ahead of Britain leaving the EU next March.

Enterprise minister Heather Humphreys said that Brexit was the "most significant challenge" facing Irish enterprise in more than 50 years.

"While there is still uncertainty of what Brexit will look like, there is no doubt it will involve significant change in the trading environment and in how we do business," she said.

"Ireland traded its way out of challenging times before and we will do so again.

"Preparation is key. We are at the frontline in supporting and encouraging business to prepare for Brexit."

She said that 85 per cent of businesses were taking Brexit-related action, but she has called for all firms to prepare for Brexit.

Michael Creed, minister for agriculture, said he had met with representatives from the agri-food industry in Northern Ireland as well as representatives from the Ulster Farmers' Union.

"Obviously the absence of an executive is a problem in terms of having that voice heard loud and clear in the context of the debate," he said.

"Most people realise there are consequences of a bad outcome of the negotiations for the day-to-day business operations, so I think increasingly that voice is being heard and that's important."

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