COVID-19: Economic Recovery

Part of The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 7th July 2020.

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Photo of Michelle O'Neill Michelle O'Neill Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 7th July 2020

I absolutely agree that Brexit is one of the biggest challenges that we face. As we rebuild the economy, what our businesses and our people are craving is certainty, and we need to get that certainty. As we move towards the end of the year, I would be very fearful if we were still in a space where we could have a crash-out Brexit, which would be catastrophic.

We have the protocol. That protocol must be implemented. It was hard-fought. The Executive continue to discuss all those things. As I said, the implementation of the protocol is the role and responsibility of the British Government, but the agri-food role falls to DAERA here, so a lot more work needs to be done to give our local ports, for example, the required clarity. We need to continue to engage with the sector to make sure that we answer questions, of which people have many, and that we give that clarity. We will continue to engage with the Assembly on all of that and, indeed, with our own TEO Committee.

The Executive themselves have now had a number of dedicated sessions on Brexit, because, over the past number of months, a lot of the focus was on COVID-19. We have been very conscious for some time now, however, that we had to get back to dealing head-on with the issue of Brexit.