The growth in trade between Ireland and Northern Ireland in the first quarter of the year is a “great” by-product of Brexit.
That is the view of Fine Gael’s Joe O’Reilly, who spoke during a Seanad debate addressing matters arising from the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.
He noted that imports from Northern Ireland increased from €137 million to €177 million and exports to the north increased from €170 million to €190 million.
“That trading relationship is very important. As the minister said earlier, it is vitally important we keep the north-south trading relationship strong, and we protect the Good Friday Agreement.” Senator O’Reilly commented.
“Another issue that has arisen at the aforementioned Seanad select committee is the potential for increases in the price of bread which, while affecting everybody, will hit the poorest in our communities the hardest.”
“The problem is the milled flour for bread is being imported because we do not have sufficient flour milling capacity in Ireland.”
He said the price of bread is potentially an issue and this must be addressed on two fronts.
He believes Ireland must increase its domestic flour milling capacity and reach some sort of international agreement to overcome the issue.
“The question of the reunification of the country arises and was debated very recently on Claire Byrne Live. I remember engaging in a school debate on this question as a youngster.”
“I won that debate on the basis of saying that what was needed was a reunification of hearts and minds and not just territory and fields.”
“We should be considering the reunification question and how we can establish areas of co-operation.”
During his address, the senator also shed light on beef prices and the differential between returns north and south.
“A beef farmer in Ireland is getting €300 less than a beef farmer in the UK for the equivalent animal.”
“There is now a kind of nationalism in the UK associated with the eating of UK beef. It is a concern. In the context of Brexit solidarity funding, etc., our beef farmers will need support.”
“Our dairy farmers will also need protection to ensure they do not suffer later on. It is important in the context that we protect our farmers.” Senator O’Reilly concluded.