Source: Oireachtas Committee report (2)

We like reports that are  straight and to the point, that provide information which might actually be of use to decision-makers. Expert testimony to the Committee showed what can happen when companies are badly informed.

“Mr (Aidan) Gough of InterTradeIreland  told the Committee that, prior to the Referendum, InterTradeIreland’s business monitor reported that 97% of businesses had not planned for the eventuality of a vote to leave.
Ms Patricia Callan of the SFA (Small Firms Association) presented an even more worrying view that many businesses were still not putting contingency plans in place as they do not believe, or are not aware, that the consequences of Brexit could extend to their area of business.”

The information gap is clearly enormous. We cannot afford to wait until the information in our possession is perfect before seeking to close the gap. Yet that appears to be what is happening, and the comittee failed to point out the dangers involved.

“It is important to note that there is a limit to the amount and precision of any preparations while the position of the UK remains unclear. Until it becomes clear what the UK wishes to achieve out of the negotiations, it will be difficult for the Government to put in place more specific contingency plans.”

The problem is that this gives British Brexiteers a veto on our contingency planning. In fact the British position has been pretty clear since early January, clear enough for better Irish planning. It is now four months since the Economic and Social Research Institute laid out the likelihood of a WTO tariff regime.

Here is a simple test. Go on the the World Trade Organisation website (www.wto.org) and try to work out the tariffs on the following imports into Ireland from the UK once it is outside the EU;

  • a stuffed chicken
  • a 10kg bag of spuds
  • a bicycle.

More than eight months after the UK referendum, why is it not possible to get that information quickly and simply from an Irish website? That is not the fault of the British.