Tipperary farm leader says Irish eyes 'must be kept on Brexit finishing line'

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Tipperary farm leader says Irish eyes 'must be kept on Brexit finishing line'

ICMSA president Pat McCormack: Irish eyes 'must be kept on Brexit finishing line'

The president of ICMSA has said that as intensive negotiations resume on what could, hopefully, turn out to be the “Brexit home straight”, it is vital that the Government keeps its gaze fixed on what Irish farming and agri-food required by way of new post-Brexit trading arrangements.

These are a system as close to the present one as possible, according to Pat McCormack.

“I know that every farmer in Ireland is watching this closely and willing the negotiations to succeed on a basis that leaves our food exports to Britain continuing on a tariff-free and quota-free basis,” he said.

The Tipperary Town farmer said that we had held those markets for centuries and we were certain that British consumers wanted our food and, we, for our part, wanted their custom.

“I’m also very conscious of the fact that Ireland does not have an independent voice in this. We are part of the EU and Mr Barnier, therefore ,speaks for us. There is also the fact that the other member states have given us unwavering support on the issue of the border and we must show solidarity in return,” said the ICMSA president.

However, we still needed to guard against our multi-billion euro food exports to the UK being held “ransom” by other member state’s particular concerns that were nowhere near as important to their economies as food was to Ireland’s, he said.

Mr McCormack said that Ireland will obviously stand with and within the overall EU position, but the others will have to remember that stopping a Brexit deal for issues that might represent 1% or 2% of their economy in a way that severely damages our food exports to the UK which represent up to 15% of net indigenous Irish economic exports is a very different matter.

“The Government will remember that, ultimately, they must represent Ireland’s interests and - it bears repeating - our interests are in a post-Brexit arrangement that is as close to the present system as possible,” he said.