Ireland is to divert hundreds of millions of pounds into protecting the country against the potential fall-out from Brexit, Sky News reports.The announcement was made during its first budget since the UK voted to leave the EU in June.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan said “economic shock absorbers” were needed to “reduce or eliminate the impact of future economic shocks” as he gave details of the €1.3bn (£1.2bn) spending plan.
It includes massive funding to government departments and state agencies charged with protecting overseas trade and diplomacy. Tourism, food and agricultural businesses, which rely heavily on cross-channel trade, have been handed breaks.
Mr Noonan said the economic growth forecast for next year has been cut to 3.5% as a result of Brexit, despite the country’s economy being in good shape currently.Paddy Malone, a chartered accountant in Dundalk, predicted hours-long queues of traffic heading for Northern Ireland.
He said: “We all remember 2009 when Sterling was against us; we saw massive two-hour queues into Newry. We are heading in that direction if Sterling continues to weaken.”
Mr Malone, who represents Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, said traders had pushed for rate relief and regeneration measures for commercial areas. “The retail sector in Dundalk is going to be severely handicapped and there should have been some measures taken,” he said.
Key measures announced as part of the Budget included a rise of five euros per week in the state pension and all other weekly social welfare payments, an affordable childcare scheme and a new help-to-buy initiative for first-time buyers.
Almost 4,500 more gardai, nurses and teachers will be employed from next year, following a years-long freeze.