Businesses urged to plan to protect cross-Border measures
Oireachtas committee says 11 Border area local authorities should develop North/South tourism strategies
“The Border communities are currently at a double disadvantage with the imminence of Brexit and the non-functioning of the assembly in Stormont”
Businesses in Border counties should immediately draw up strategies to be implemented post-Brexit “which will protect current cross-Border business arrangements”, a report from an Oireachtas committee has recommended.
The Joint Committee on Rural and Community Development also said the 11 Border area local authorities should develop North/South tourism strategies suitable to their “specific cross-Border regions”.
The report Brexit and the Border – Impact on Rural Communities will be published by the committee on Wednesday.
The committee said the Government should discuss with the European Commission the feasibility of developing a PEACE V programme, a successor to the current EU cohesion policy programme for Northern Ireland. This could be funded by the Irish and UK governments to address the challenges of inter-community conflict and cross-Border relationships post-Brexit.
The Border communities are currently at a double disadvantage with the imminence of Brexit and the non-functioning of the assembly in Stormont
The committee said the Government should seek agreement from the EU and the UK for a mechanism to allow the North continued access to EU funding programmes.
It believes local authorities on both sides of the Border should publish a communications strategy identifying the problems and implications of Brexit for individual and community groups. It has also called for the pooling of local/regional bodies’ resources “where practicable” to promote cross-Border initiatives.
“The Border communities are currently at a double disadvantage with the imminence of Brexit and the non-functioning of the assembly in Stormont, ” the report says. “It is left in a vacuum which threatens the whole infrastructure of the region.”
The report also includes submissions from various stakeholders on both sides on the Border.
Isme (Irish Small and Medium Enterprises) said the biggest challenge facing small businesses in Border areas and throughout the whole of the State was “the unknown”.
The Centre for Cross-Border Studies estimated that between 23,000 and 30,000 people were cross-Border workers, and there was “no doubt” that each one of these could not but be affected.
The report says close attention needs to be paid to the UK government’s proposed UK shared prosperity fund.
“The UK and Ireland governments need to acknowledge at the highest levels the serious concerns within the communities, and within those organisations working on their behalf, that, notwithstanding all the talk about the Border, they will be left to fend for themselves.”