We are now all well aware that Brexit has passed. There are already seismic shocks all over the globe. Naturally, the main impact will be in the UK and arguably the second greatest effects will be felt in Ireland. What are the consequences for Ireland?
As I write, the Brexit result is less than a week old. If the result was remain, the implications would have been relatively clear – status quo with some relatively small repercussions here and there. A week ago, there were many opinion pieces on the implications if Brexit happened. Many of them got some things right but none of them really articulated the force of this economic, political and cultural earthquake. On that basis, it is probably wise to leave predictions to others. In fact, the potential of a referendum to overturn the decision of 23 June is gaining ground – all options are still on the table.
So can we say anything with certainty? Yes. Radical changes are ahead.
We have faced upheavals like this before – the economic crisis in Ireland since 2008 meant that the public and private sectors had to be radically overhauled to deal with a new reality. Economists generally agree that this project was successful. What this means for current events is that Irish business and the economy as a whole can adapt quickly to new circumstances. Such agility will be key in navigating a post Brexit world. Even if Brexit does not come to pass, the formal institutional bonds that were in place on 22 June 2016 will be weakened or severed; which means that we will need to rely more heavily on relationships. The Irish are good at relationships – our diplomatic efforts have always meant we carried more influence than we are entitled to on the basis of size; our people like interacting with foreign neighbours and it appears the feeling is mutual; and certainly in recent years our businesses have internationalised with quite some success.
What else do we know? More than ever, we now know the importance of stability – Ireland’s political, taxation and economic landscapes have proven to be very stable and conducive to business. Ireland is committed to the EU project and remains the only native English-speaking euro zone country. The reasons for 187,000 FDI jobs in Ireland are as true today as they were before Brexit.
Is the future uncertain? Yes. Is Ireland ready? Absolutely.
Mark Butler - Managing Partner, HLB Sheehan Quinn