North-South economic ties need to be improved post-Brexit - Taoiseach

Micheál Martin says single enterprise agency needed to promote SMEs

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: ‘We’ve created a shared island initiative to concentrate on what’s doable.’ Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: ‘We’ve created a shared island initiative to concentrate on what’s doable.’ Photograph: Julien Behal Photography/PA Wire

 

The North-South economic ties need to be improved and strengthened post Brexit, deal or no deal, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Speaking to Inside Business, a podcast from The Irish Times, Mr Martin said: “North-South relationships could be improved, particular in terms of the SME sector. Inter Trade Ireland is doing good work but having been minister for enterprise for four years and having been on trade missions with companies from both the North and the Republic together it seems to me that we could do with one enterprise agency on the island of Ireland that would promote SMEs North and South and develop synergies between them. I think there should be one food authority in Ireland; we have three at the moment.”

When asked what was holding back such initiatives, Mr Martin said: “Well, politics, and that’s how it’s evolved. That’s why we’ve created a shared island initiative to concentrate on what’s doable.

“Last week’s North-South ministerial council allocated money for the Sligo-Enniskillen greenway and for the Ulster canal, which is going to be a really exciting project. We’ve allocated funding to a feasibility study for rapid rail, Belfast, Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Derry. That’s the practical stuff that can make a difference in terms of the island economy and something I’m very keen on and really want to make work.”

Post Brexit, Mr Martin said it was ever more important that the Good Friday Agreement was the key framework for relationships on the island.

In education, he said he would like to see greater sharing of curriculum on English and history around “shared narratives”, and an All-Ireland research hub. “That’s the type of thing I’d like to get traction on,” he said.

Mr Martin told the podcast that he believes a deal on Brexit will be completed before the year-end deadline for the conclusion of talks on the future relationship between the European Union and the UK.