Six MPs from the UK’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs committee visited Cavan on Thursday, 16 November to hear from elected representatives, local government officials and business leaders about the challenges facing Cavan and the greater border region due to the UK’s impending exit from the European Union.
Published on: 17 Nov 2017
The delegation were invited to Cavan by Brendan Smith, TD, Chair of the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence Committee, to see first-hand the reality of the border as it is now, and to hear people’s concerns at what may come to pass post-Brexit.
Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Cllr Paddy McDonald, officially welcomed the delegation to Cavan and presented each member with a copy of ‘Brexit and the Border Corridor on the Island of lreland: Risks, Opportunities, and Issues to consider’, a report outlining the specific risks posed to the border region by Brexit.
Chief Executive of Cavan County Council Tommy Ryan impressed upon the committee the need to keep Ireland, and the border, at the forefront of the UK negotiation position, pointing out that a hard border would be detrimental to both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“The danger we face as a small region on the edge of Europe is that, in the bigger picture, we could fall off the negotiation table,” said Mr Ryan. “We need to have a voice for this region, because it will be impacted, depending on the outcome.”
The delegation also heard from business leaders Michael Hanley (Lakeland Dairies), Eugene Kiernan (Breffni Mushrooms), Ray Cole (Virginia Logistics), Kevin Lunney (Quinn Industrial Holdings) and Tony Walker (Slieve Russell Hotel) who told them of the unique challenges their businesses face, including currency fluctuation, increased transport costs in the event of a border, and employees living in different jurisdictions.
The delegation was led by Tom Tugenhadt, MP, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, who commented that Ireland and the United Kingdom have “so many shared ambitions and so much shared history, that we really have no choice but to make this work”.
“I’m not going to argue to you that Ireland’s always been at the forefront of everybody’s mind during the Brexit process; that would be untrue. But it is certainly true that those of us that are here with you tonight are absolutely seized with the fact that Ireland is our most important foreign relationship. We must make this work, and we will make it work.”