Agriculture, finance and industry were the sectors in Cork and the wider south west region which bore the most impact of the British vote to leave the European Union, the first major study on the Brexit effect on Cork since the 2016 referendum suggests.
rior to launching the report, at UCC, where it was edited by lecturer, Dr. Mary C.Murphy, An Taoiseach Mícheál Martin said the report focused on how Brexit and the Protocol has caused ‘undoubted challenges across the islands of Britain and Ireland and said the report highlighted how co-operation might be progressed in Cork.
“The all-island economy, however, which involves working together, North and South, to meet the major strategic challenges we all face has thepotential to deepen cooperation in constructive and mutually beneficial ways,” said Mr. Martin.
The University College Cork (UCC) report identifies how Cork – Ireland’s largest county and second largest city – has managed and mediated the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. In particular, it details the extent to which all-island economic, social and cultural opportunities, in the aftermath of Brexit, are being developed and advanced.
In addition to highlighting the sectors in the South-west of Ireland that were most impacted by Brexit, the report found that Cork’s long history of trade with Europehas helped to cushion the worst effects of Brexit for the city and the wider region.
The study found that the Cork region was comparatively less affected by shifting tourist numbers than other parts of Ireland.
An important component of Cork city’s attractiveness to tourists is its reputation as one of Ireland’s leading arts and culture hotspots, the report suggests.
The study also pointed to Cork’s status as the EU’s second largest English speaking city, after Dublin, to suggest that the city had the potential to become a particularly attractive location for international students who might otherwise have chosen Britain for their studies.
A limited collective understanding of Cork’s connection with Northern Ireland was described as a structural challenge in the report. This is linked to poor physical connectivity and long travel times between North and South, and a tendency for many businesses to look to Europe rather than to Northern Ireland in terms of prioritising links.
The report includes recommendations about how Cork might capitalise on the post-Brexit environment through the advancement of trade connections, closer civic links (between, for example, Cork and Derry) and more direct connections between Cork and different parts of the UK. It also proposes the development of an Island of Ireland Erasmus-style Student Mobility Programme and the promotion of joint projects around sustainability, tourism, and intercommunity understanding.
Editor of the report and UCC lecturer, Dr Mary C. Murphy said: “At a time when Brexit and the Protocol are creating challenges and uncertainty, this study proposes the broadening of all manner of North-South links with a view to benefiting all people and all parts of the island of Ireland.”
UCC President Professor John O’Halloran welcomed the publication of the report which he said was a work of considerable value and praised its editor, Dr. Mary. C. Murphy, whom he describred as a recognised scholar of north-south relations. “Not alone does it scope out existing links between Northern Ireland and the Cork region, it also includes ideas and recommendations about how to capture new opportunities for investment, cooperation and connection across the island in the context of the post-Brexit period.”