TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has said he is concerned that the supply chain disruption that has led to shortages at petrol stations and supermarkets in the UK post-Brexit could impact Ireland in the coming months.
r Martin said that the UK’s failure to prepare as much as Ireland did for the impact of leaving the European Union has led to current difficulties.
These include driver shortages – with thousands of European lorry drivers having left the industry post-Brexit- that have impacted on fuel supplies for petrol stations and put supply squeezes on other industries including supermarkets which are short of certain products.
Mr Martin admitted he was concerned when asked about the possible knock-on impact for Ireland in terms of deliveries into country and people trying to get back for Christmas.
Speaking in New York on Friday, Mr Martin said: “I’ve been concerned for a long time in relation to Brexit. I think Covid has masked a lot of the issues around Brexit. Now we’ve managed to weather some of the storm because of the preparation, and we prepared well, and also because we’re opening up links to Europe and so on.
“But I’ve picked up from SMEs, for example, in Ireland, that they’re finding the rule times now for ordering goods and getting goods into the country is much longer than it would have been before Brexit. SMEs within Britain, British SMEs, are finding it difficult in terms of access into European markets.
“So I think the fallout has however to come in terms of Brexit and I think, you know, if we could take the politics away from it, I think everybody, including the UK, need to mirror on how it’s working because we owe it to those at the frontline of industry and business, that systems run smoothly.
“I think there hasn’t been the same level of preparation in the UK for Brexit and the results of that are showing in some aspects of British commerce and British businesses.”
Mr Martin said the possibility of the UK renegotiating the Brexit deal was “not going to happen” but called instead for “shared sense and pragmatism.
He noted that the UK had delayed introducing its own quality mark in place of the EU one by a year because British industry had indicated they were not ready. “I think it’s been compounded, also, we must be fair, by supply chain issues around Covid globally. But I’m in no doubt that Brexit is a worry in terms of that dynamic,” Mr Martin additional.
Meanwhile Mr Martin said the Government would “collectively” decide on an expected invitation to a church commemoration event to mark the centenary of the foundation of Northern Ireland in Armagh next month. President Michael D Higgins has already decided not to attend the event with the organisers on Friday expressing their sadness at the politicisation of it.
“I respect the organisers in terms of what they are trying to do and their bonafides and I respect fully the President’s decision, I understand where he was coming from, and he has been very committed to commemoration,” Mr Martin said.
“So we don’t want commemorations in themselves, or the events in themselves to be divisive, whether intended or not.”
Mr Martin said he was “clear that there would have been an interaction” between the organisers and the President prior to him turning down an invitation, despite this being contradicted by the organisers on Friday. He said the President “gave it very thorough consideration”.
Mr Martin also said that there would be an “evaluation” of how both the current Government and the last one performed during the pandemic. He said, “all hands do nevertheless need to be on deck” ahead of a “challenging winter”, but earmarked the “early part of next year” for when such an examination would take place. He said that memorialising the Covid-19 pandemic would also have to include the experience of the Irish diaspora.
Mr Martin was speaking at the end of a visit to NBC Studios at Rockefeller Plaza where he was given a tour of the studios where shows including Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show are filmed.
Mr Martin said that the Government would look at what additional measures could be taken to make Ireland already more attractive for the US film industry to invest in the country.
The Taoiseach is concluding his five-day visit to New York on Friday with an address to the UN General Assembly.
On Thursday, he chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council on the issue of climate and security, which he described as “the high point of the week”.
He said the trip had been about “reconnecting with our base in the United States on the cultural front, on the economic front, on the political front”.
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