Fine Gael Kildare South Martin Heydon TD has said that the public meeting held on Monday evening to discuss what the future holds under Brexit highlighted both the challenges and opportunities facing Kildare businesses in the months and years ahead.

“The large crowd of business owners, advisers, and representatives from both Kildare South and North Chambers is indicative in the level of interest in this topic at present and led to a lively debate.

“The level of uncertainty over what the future holds was evident from all the contributions and the impact of that on Kildare business and farmers was emphasized with challenges highlighted by Newbridge resident Patrick Kavanagh of Griffith Foods and the potential for opportunities outlined by Simon Cross of Cross Agri Engineering, Rathangan who employs over 40 people.

Former Party leader and EU expert Alan Dukes said that a “soft” Brexit would be best for Ireland to keep Britain as an accessible market for Irish businesses and services as much as possible.  With a combined level of €7bn in trade between the two countries this is imperative.  He described Brexit as a “negative sum game” and emphasized that we needed to ensure we minimized the damage arising from it for Kildare consumers and businesses.

“Minister Simon Coveney stressed the complexity of the issue with politics, EU direction, and business all intertwined.  He believes we need to stay close to both the UK and the EU as the negotiations get under way to ensure the best deal for Ireland even though he stressed that getting a special treatment for Ireland will not be as easy as some people believe.  He said the government is working intensively to see how we can best protect our citizens both at home and abroad as well as our businesses against fluctuations in exchange rates and potential barriers to trade.

“Maureen Bergin, Retail Director at Kildare Village stressed that Kildare businesses needed to work together to keep a sense of value for the UK visitor who has now seen a 20 to 25% increase in the cost of their trip to Ireland.

“Representatives from Kildare IFA and local cereal growers highlighted the risks and challenges for Kildare farmers from the current uncertainty. Minister Coveney confirmed that the Government were very aware of these issues and each relevant departments is working to prepare for the challenges as they arise.

Deputy Heydon thanked all for their attendance and contributions.  He outlined the additional structures that the government has put in place to strengthen our response to Brexit with a special cabinet committee on Brexit, a second secretary general in the Department of the Taoiseach to effectively focus on Brexit and additional resources to the Department of Foreign Affairs.