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Brexit: Contingency Planning

Oral Answers to Questions — Finance and Personnel – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 13th October 2015.

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Photo of Bronwyn McGahan Bronwyn McGahan Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 13th October 2015

T4. Ms McGahan asked the Minister of Finance and Personnel what contingency planning her Department has completed in the event of the Brexit. (AQT 2994/11-16)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

We have not done any contingency planning for that because we have our own difficulties to deal with. Whilst others might want to talk about European exit, we certainly do not want to talk about devolution exit. That is the problem that faces us at present. We need to concentrate on our own particular financial difficulties, sort out welfare and sort out the rest of the Stormont House flexibilities so that we can move forward.

Photo of Bronwyn McGahan Bronwyn McGahan Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat. I thank the Minister for her response. Does she agree with me that a Brexit would destabilise our economy and undermine efforts over the past 20 years to market this region to foreign investors as a gateway to Europe?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

No, I do not agree with that assessment. I think that a lot of our companies feel very downtrodden because of the amount of regulation that they have to face on a day-to-day basis. Recently, I met a delegation from the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association and was very alarmed to hear about the amount of form-filling that goes on in a small business with a couple of employees. One employee has to be allocated to fill out the forms. It is absolutely disproportionate. We need to tackle that, and I hope that we can do so through the red tape review. We also need do have a fuller discussion on the European legislation that really impacts local businesses here.