— it will change your everyday life
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Tánaiste Simon Coveney, British prime minister Theresa May and senior EU officials have all insisted the same guarantees outlined in any deal will apply even if British crashes out of the EU without an agreement in place though it may be trickier to implement in practice. A worst-case scenario Brexit risks dragging Ireland back to the dark days of the Troubles.
Should the existing Brexit deal be accepted by Westminster this week, there will be no threat of a hard border and therefore the potential risk of a slow-step return to violence in Northern Ireland will reduce dramatically.
In addition, the backstop will be protected, meaning the subtle political nuances surrounding identity in Northern Ireland can continue to be implemented.
While calls for a united Ireland referendum are likely to increase, the lack of a hard border or physical infrastructure on the border means it is highly unlikely violence will be sparked.
This is one of the most serious problems posed by Brexit.
Officially and even unofficially, Irish officials have insisted the Government is not preparing in any way for the return of a hard border and the potential security risks this will bring.
However, if a hard border is reintroduced, there are genuine fears it will lead to a rise in potential violence in Northern Ireland.
And while British police said last week they will send officers to the north to help address any outbreaks of violence if this is needed, such a move would inevitably throw yet more petrol onto the flames. Any Brexit will hit public finances, but a hard Brexit risks throwing us back into a recession.
There is no getting around the facts — Brexit will damage the Irish economy.
Even in a best-case scenario of the existing EU-UK deal being implemented, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council has warned Ireland’s GDP will drop by at least 4%, affecting businesses, jobs and the money in your pocket in equal measure.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe have stressed last October’s budget and the €500m rainy day fund is Brexit-focussed and that the fact Ireland’s economy is now running a surplus will protect us from the coming storm - a view disputed by the opposition.
If a 4% dip in the economy frightens you, try 8% and a €3.6bn hole in our economic plans.
During the same Oireachtas finance committee meeting last November where the 4% best case scenario situation was outlined, the Irish Fiscal Advisory Council’s official Martina Lawless also said a crash-out no deal will see GDP plummet by 8%.
An ESRI report last month similarly said a doomsday Brexit scenario could create a massive €3.6bn hole in Ireland’s economic plans which risks sinking the country.
While Fianna Fáil leader Micheal Martin has demanded an emergency budget to be considered for this spring to cope with any expected fallout, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar remains insistent this is not necessary. Thousands of jobs risk being lost from the vital sectors.
While Brexit will affect all aspects of Irish life, the farming and fishing industries are by far the most vulnerable due to long-standing connections with the British market.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed has said even in a best case scenario Brexit deal, thousands of jobs could be lost from the sectors due in part to tariffs on goods being sent to Britain.
While this will be off-set by continued “land bridge” access to continental European markets through Britain, job losses are expected.
The no-deal situation is potentially disastrous for two of the stalwarts of the Irish economy.
If Britain crashes out of the EU in just two months time without a deal, up to 40% of the beef industry could be at risk because of its export focus on Britain.
Similarly, Mr Creed said up to 4,000 jobs could be lost in the 10,000-strong fishing industry if Britain claws back complete control of its fishing water rights.
While the Government is seeking alternative beef markets to Britain and hopes to find a resolution to the fishing crisis — with Mr Creed indicating last week a potential EU cash injection for beef farmers may be offered — there is no way of ignoring the seriousness of the situation. Forget the British lorry convoy PR exercise last week — hauliers, exporters and importers have a Brexit target on their backs.
In its 100-plus page Brexit contingency planning document published last month, the Government said a Brexit deal situation will allow Irish hauliers to continue to travel through the British “land-bridge” to continental Europe.
The land bridge — which is effectively just a fast-track drive through Britain — is a crucial part of the Irish import and export market.
However, questions have been raised over the impact increased customs checks will have on the sector, even if everything goes to plan.
If you tend to lose your cool in a normal traffic jam, you may want to look away now.
Despite the mainly British PR about how a no deal Brexit will not necessarily bring lorries and trucks carrying goods to a grinding halt, the Irish Freight Association and the Irish Road Haulage Association have specifically warned of this exact scenario.
Among the PR put out in recent weeks has been the British government’s claim that checks on hauliers’ trucks and lorries will take less than 40 seconds and offer little to no disruption.
Frankly, no one believes a word of it, with both Irish organisations ridiculing the prediction as being completely unrealistic and their counterparts in Britain saying Theresa May’s PR focussed lorry convoy test run last Monday — designed to show how speedily trucks will still roll — was pointless as it took place outside of rush hour traffic.
What does this mean for you and accessing the goods, and markets, you need?
In simple traffic terms, gridlock, not green light. Depending on who you ask, the Government is either ready to bail out at-risk firms or is sleepwalking into a crisis.
A Brexit deal will undoubtedly impact on the economy, with border companies, those in the south east who are dependent on Rosslare, and agri-food firms in Cork and Kerry flagged by Government and independent groups as the most at-risk.
However, the Government is of the view that an existing Brexit business preparedness fund involving grants and other supports will be enough to prevent major fallout in the majority of cases — an issue ministers have spent months emphasising to firms.
This is where the Government promises get tricky.
While ministers are at pains to stress the supports and grants which are already available through the Department of Business, they will be stretched to the absolute limit in a worst case scenario no-deal Brexit.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dáil last December officials have contacted the EU about relaxing existing State aid rules, a complicated way of saying they have asked Brussels for hundreds of millions of euro more in funds to shore up firms.
However, after receiving a written parliamentary question response on the matter last week, Fianna Fáil business spokesperson Billy Kelleher said little progress has been made on the issue to date — just two months out from the Brexit divorce date. Multinational firms’ special relationship with Ireland, or at least our English-speaking workforce and corporate tax rate, is expected to only grow due to Brexit.
Love them or loathe them, there is no escaping the current importance of multinational firms to the economy.
With Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and other heavyhitters locating their European bases in Ireland, in part because of our corporate tax policy, keeping the companies happy during Brexit will be key.
While the current question marks over what will happen with Brexit have led to legitimate concerns being raised due to the increased difficulties in accessing the British market, it is widely expected Ireland will remain central to multinational firms’ plans.
One of the few upshots of a no-deal situation for Ireland will be the likely surge in multinationals coming to this country from Britain.
While the UK government has signalled it may try and make itself more attractive to firms by cutting its own corporate tax rate, the fact that a no deal situation will see the country completely cut off from Europe is almost certain to be a deciding factor.
With English-speaking Ireland still in the EU, and provided our controversial corporate tax rate remains in place, there is a strong belief that more multinational firms — not fewer — will be based in this country postBrexit. Banks, financial services and other businesses are already planning to come to Ireland regardless of the Brexit outcome.
Even if the existing Brexit deal is somehow passed through Westminster on Tuesday, firms currently based in London’s financial hub are planning to relocate to Ireland.
To date, four leading banks and financial services have agreed to move to Dublin.
They include Lloyd’s moving its EU headquarters from London to Dublin; JP Morgan agreeing to transfer “hundreds” of positions from London to Dublin, Frankfurt and Luxembourg; and Barclays moving 150 jobs to the Irish capital from London to set up a new EU headquarters.
Bank of America is also moving its headquarters from London to Dublin
Ireland’s — and particularly Dublin’s — close proximity to London means this trend will only grow if Britain crashes out without a deal.
Although it brings its own problems — namely where on earth to house thousands of new workers suddenly flowing into the capital — the Government will at least be privately rubbing its hands at the opportunity for Dublin to benefit from the City of London’s financial woes in a doomsday Brexit.
The International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) is already a major business hotspot, and is set to grow significantly even if the worst happens on the political scene. The Brexit crisis could cost the tourism industry a whopping €390m.
In a best case Brexit deal scenario, British tourists are predicted to continue coming to Ireland — but in smaller numbers
However, both Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland are fearful a drop of up to 20% in British tourists over the coming years could still happen due to the deteriorating relationship between the two countries.
To combat the possible problems, Irish tourism bodies are continuing to push advertising campaigns both in Britain and potentially more crucially in other European countries and North America to help protect the sector from any fallout.
Nice holiday? Feeling relaxed? Great, now just the bill, sir.
Asked about the consequences of a no deal by politicians at an Oireachtas tourism committee meeting in November, Fáilte Ireland’s chief executive Paul Kelly didn’t pull his punches, saying a crash out Brexit could cost the Irish tourism sector up to €390m.
Mr Kelly said the figure which is €130m more than what the Tourism Industry Council officially predicts — is based on a 20% drop in British tourism, with fears the scenario could be as damaging and more long-term than the 2010 ash cloud crisis and the 2001 foot and mouth disease scare.
And he was not alone in his concerns, with Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons telling the same committee rural Ireland will be affected “more than anywhere” — with the West, South-West and border areas expected to be worst hit. Trips to Britain and continental Europe are facing into short-term Brexit turbulence.
If, like just about everyone in Ireland, you want to get away from all this Brexit talk with a nice, stress-free holiday abroad, you might want to cross your fingers for a deal.
Under existing open sky rules, there is no hindrance to British, EU and Irish planes flying through each others airspace, a situation a deal would maintain in a move that would benefit everyone involved.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar caused uproar in Derrynane, west Kerry, last July when he said British planes will not be able to use EU airspace in a hard Brexit, but he had a point.
Unfortunately, the flip side of the issue is that Irish planes will not be able to use British airspace either.
Since the controversial remark, EU, Irish and British officials have moved to address the problem, with the EU no deal Brexit contingency plans published in December saying British planes will be allowed access to EU airspace on a point-topoint basis.
This means they can travel to one destination and back to Britain, but cannot travel on from the EU destination to a third country.
The offer is based on an equivalent agreement being reached for EU planes flying to or through British airspace.
But at the very least, it means there is the risk of more potential Brexit turbulence for Irish passengers just trying to get away from it all.
There’s no escape from Brexit, basically.
RESIDENTS: The rights of British people living in Ireland and Irish people living in Britain are set to be protected whatever happens.
FARMING AND FISHING: While Brexit will affect all aspects of Irish life, the farming and fishing industries are by far the most vulnerable due to long-standing connections with the British market.
THE NORTH: In a no-deal scenario, the likely imposition of customs checks on the border will significantly increase the amount of time it takes to travel to the North.
BRITISH BUSINESSES: Banks, financial services and other businesses are already planning to come to Ireland regardless of the Brexit outcome.
TRAVEL: There is the risk of more potential Brexit turbulence for Irish passengers just trying to get away from it all.