State to hire 500 staff at ports and airports if the UK crashes out


Most jobs will be concentrated in Dublin given the size and capacity of Dublin port and airport
Most jobs will be concentrated in Dublin given the size and capacity of Dublin port and airport

More than 500 full-time customs and veterinary inspectors will be taken on by the State in preparation for the worst-case scenario on Brexit.

The Government is to announce some of its contingency planning for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit at a special Cabinet meeting in Kerry on Wednesday.

There are several possible outcomes to the current negotiations between the EU and UK, and the Government will begin by planning for the most destructive form of Brexit. It can scale back the response depending on the nature of the deal whenever it is reached.

The new roles will apply to the six main ports and three main airports in the State. However, most jobs will be concentrated in Dublin given the size and capacity of Dublin port and airport.

If Britain stays outside the EU customs union, or if no new customs arrangement materialises, Ireland will be obliged to collect tariffs on behalf of the EU for goods coming into Ireland from Britain as a non-EU country.

New customs and veterinary checks will be required to protect the EU’s single market from substandard goods and livestock coming from another country outside the EU’s regulatory environment.



Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed the number of
new posts at ports and airports would run into the hundreds. Photo: Gerry MooneyFinance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed the number of
new posts at ports and airports would run into the hundreds. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed the number of
new posts at ports and airports would run into the hundreds. Photo: Gerry Mooney

This would also apply if the UK agrees a Free Trade Agreement with the UK, and stays outside the EU’s single market rulebook and jurisdiction.

Ports and airports operate seven days a week for 20 hours a day, and new staff will have to be trained in time and for all eventualities. This includes a situation where a deal cannot be reached on the withdrawal agreement and the UK crashes out with no transition deal in place.

The plans will also have to be priced into next year’s budget, which will be announced before the late October deadline for the completion of the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement.

Crucially, the Withdrawal Agreement also contains the Irish protocol which deals with the backstop – the legally-binding agreement guaranteeing no Border is ever erected in Ireland even if talks on a new trading relationship fail. EU lead negotiator Michel Barnier described it as the “most difficult” part of the negotiations.

Brussels and Irish officials also envisage there will be some slippage on this October date, given the competing political, legal, and ideological complexities involved, particularly within the British cabinet.

UK and EU negotiators are simultaneously engaged in tough talks about the new EU-UK relationship post-Brexit.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May released her government’s opening salvo for this in the white paper published on Friday. But much of it will have to be rewritten as it doesn’t take into account the realities of the EU’s single market.

If both sides cannot reconcile British objectives for Brexit with the rules of Europe’s single market, then it is likely that a free trade agreement will be the outcome of the talks. However, the Government wants the UK to stay as close as possible to the current arrangement.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed the number of new posts at ports and airports would run into the hundreds. He said how much this will cost “will depend on the shape of Brexit which should become clearer later on in the year”.

Speaking on RTÉ’s ‘This Week’ yesterday, he also said the Government is putting in place a €300m fund to make loans available to Irish farms and industry to cope with Brexit.

He said Ireland would be moving into “a new phase of preparedness” in order to react to whatever changes the UK decides to make to its relationship with the EU partners.

Irish Independent

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