Business leaders say Government ill-prepared for Brexit

Overwhelming majority of directors believe EU exit will damage Irish economy

A survey of Irish business leaders has found 92 per cent have serious concerns about the prospect of the UK exiting the European Union.

The survey, conducted by the Institute of Directors in Ireland (IoD), was conducted ahead of a meeting of 200 leaders in Dublin on Thursday to address the looming Brexit threat.

It found 96 per cent to express a preference for the UK to remain in Europe while 87 per cent said leaving would have a negative impact on the Irish economy.

As for Irish preparation, 81 per cent said they did not believe the Government here, or institutions, are ready.


On the business front, about 12 per cent have put “contingency plans” in place but over three quarters of leaders say that, like the Government, businesses are generally ill-prepared.

Further statistics from the survey are equally bleak - half of Ireland’s companies anticipate a Brexit impact on their business and 70 per cent said it would precipitate exit strategies among other EU member states.

"As the UK's nearest neighbour, with strong economic ties [AND]trade and business interests, Ireland has a very significant interest in the outcome of the upcoming UK referendum on EU membership," said Maura Quinn, IoD chief executive.

"The Brexit vote is clearly a cause for concern among business leaders, the majority of whom believe that Irish businesses and the Irish Government need to step-up their preparations in the event of a UK vote to leave the EU."

Philippe Legrain, senior visiting fellow at the European Institute of the London School of Economics and a former advisor to European Commission president José Manuel Barroso, is the guest speaker at Thursday's event.

“Irish directors are concerned about the negative consequences for Britain, Ireland, the EU and their businesses of a potential Brexit - and rightly so,” he said of the results.

“At a time when the crisis-hit EU is already unraveling, Brexit could have disastrous repercussions. Every vote counts so everyone with family, friends and contacts in Britain should try to persuade them to vote to remain in the EU.”

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times