NIMEA executive director addresses NI Grain Trade’s monthly meeting

Conall Donnelly, right, Executive Director, NIMEA, guest speaker at the NIGTA lunch is pictured with Robin Irvine, left, Chief Executive, NIGTA and Declan Billington, NIGTA past President. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Conall Donnelly, right, Executive Director, NIMEA, guest speaker at the NIGTA lunch is pictured with Robin Irvine, left, Chief Executive, NIGTA and Declan Billington, NIGTA past President. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Special guest at last week’s meeting of the Northern Ireland Grain Trade Association was Conall Donnelly, Executive Director of the Northern Ireland Meat Exporters Association.

NIGTA president Michael McAree welcomed Conall and acknowledged his work as a spokesman for the agri-food sector.

It was no surprise to anyone that Brexit was the main topic for discussion and Mr Donnelly outlined the principle issues for Northern Ireland businesses in terms of future trading relationships.

He said: “At the start of this process our members took the position that the best outcome would be for the whole of the UK to remain in the single market and customs union. That continues to be the view of the industry.

“The unacceptable level of uncertainty with respect to trade in a no-deal scenario is already causing harm to business.

“The problem is that “No Deal” is the default outcome and while there isn’t a majority in parliament in favour of such a scenario, there is not a majority in favour of any alternative.

“The fear is that through a mixture of intransigence and dogma it could happen by default and unfortunately that means we need to be prepared for such an outcome.

“With so much uncertainty around major and complex issues involving trade, tariffs and regulations, planning for No Deal seems an almost impossible task.

“It cannot be done without comprehensive engagement between industry and government.”

He added: “With the clock running down, we have to ask where the time is to do this properly.”