Michael Gaynor, President; Pat McCormick, incoming President and Paddy Malone PRO of the Chamber met the British Cabinet Minister David Lidington and the UK Ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett recently.
David explained that he was here to listen and to understand the concerns of all who lived along the Border and how best to address the issues raised.
Michael explained that Dundalk and Newry had seen significant economic advancement over the last 20 years. He expressed concern that that might not continue.
Pat outlined the concerns of the manufacturing sector who now operated on a cross border basis relying on transport delivering the products on a just in time basis.
David McArdle of the Irish Road Haulers Association set out the concerns of the organisation in meeting the demands of customers. Any delay would be serious and his company was aware of the issues that crossing into and out of Norway and Switzerland raised.
Paddy raised the issues of people from EU countries currently residing in Newry but working in Dundalk. He also raised issues over the daily 3,000 people who cross the border , the issue for Northern students attending DKIT and Irish students attending UK universities. He also raised concern over EU standards on food and other products. He pointed out that the agri market saw milk and other products crossing the border to be treated in one jurisdiction and finished in the second.
Paddy also pointed out that we currently wanted to develop the Tourist industry around Carlingford Lough.
David in reply indicated that the UK wished for a soft border as outlined by the Pri-Minister. It was not the UK intention to impede the flow of goods into the UK from Ireland. He believed that workable solutions would be found but did express some frustration over the order of matters insisted upon by the UK. David asked for suggestions as to how matters might be handled locally.
Paddy pointed out that the MOU between Louth and Newry signed in 2011 should be enhanced to facilitate better cooperation. He also felt that the 2040 National Development Plan could be used by Northern organisations to have a greater say on matters.
The Minister stated that he found the meeting informative and positive and thanked us for our contribution.