Minister for Employment and Small Business Pat Breen has described as positive his meeting with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, in Dublin on Monday. The Clare minister of state met privately with Mr Brokenshire, among the topics discussed was Brexit and its potential impact on cross border trade.

According to Minister Breen, “Brexit was top of the agenda as we spoke about the need to minimise the effect on trade between Ireland and the UK, how to protect the economy of the border counties post Brexit, and how to safeguard the Small and Medium Enterprises here in Ireland.”

He added, “Brexit is of course happening in the back drop to the elections in Northern Ireland and it is vital that we protect the peace process, while also protecting the economy of the whole island of Ireland during these changing times. Secretary Brokenshire was very positive about north-south-relations and is more than conscious of the fact that the cross border market is worth approximately €6 billion in manufactured goods and services.”

Minister Breen stated, “The British Government also wants to ensure trade continues between Ireland and the UK because, after all, about €2 billion euro worth of trade takes place every week between Ireland and the UK.”  The Minister also acknowledged that there will be very challenging times ahead, but he maintains that the Government is ready for such challenges.

In relation to Government preparations for Brexit, Minister Breen said, “Outside of meetings with the UK, Ministers in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O’Connor, Minister Halligan and I, are also preparing to meet our counterparts in other Member States. We will be travelling to European capitals to outline the special relationships that exits between the UK and Ireland, and highlighting the complexities of the Northern Ireland peace process. We have to influence our colleagues in the EU, and while we will do that over the next few months, it is important that we have stability here at home.”