The Board of Údarás na Gaeltachta has recently given its approval to a new Údarás consultation and support scheme ‘Bí Réidh’ to assist in encouraging Gaeltacht companies to prepare for Brexit and to develop an action plan in this regard. A fund of €100,000 has been made available for this scheme which will be based on self-assessment of their exposure to Brexit, and a Consultancy Grant Scheme, under the De Minimis rule, with maximum of €5,000 each being allowed.
Companies will be encouraged to undertake an assessment on how prepared the company is for Brexit in the areas of Business Strategy, Operations, Innovation, Sales and Marketing, Finance and People Management. Údarás na Gaeltachta is working hand in hand with Enterprise Ireland on this scheme as part of the coordinated cross-agency response to Brexit and international affairs in 2017.
The grant, based on 50 per cent of expenditure and up to a maximum of €5,000, will be available to companies who are already exporting and where over 20 per cent of the company’s sales are in the United Kingdom. A Brexit Subcommittee has been established within Údarás na Gaeltachta to undertake the implementation of this scheme and to address Brexit issues.
It is recognised that advance preparation and planning is very important so that companies have the ability to overcome the business challenges that Brexit will present. Údarás na Gaeltachta is currently arranging a series of regional seminars in Gaeltacht areas regarding Brexit, details to be announced in the coming weeks, to raise awareness of Brexit and the opportunities and challenges it will present and the various supports that are available from Údarás na Gaeltachta.
An open call for the ‘Bí Réidh’ scheme will be launched on completion of the regional seminars agus further information including application forms for the scheme will be made available.
Chief Executive of Údarás na Gaeltachta, Steve Ó Cúláin, on announcing the scheme stated, “it is difficult to assess the effects Brexit will have as of yet especially in evidence of the daily or even hourly changes to the narrative we have experienced this week. That said there is no doubt that it will have a significant affect on our client companies and it is very important that they are prepared for it and that the appropriate advice and expertise is available to them. It is significant that nearly a quarter (24.5% ) of Údarás na Gaeltacht client company exports, at a value of €154 million, are to the United Kingdom.
We are grateful to the Board for approving this support for Gaeltacht companies and for the excellent cooperation we have with other state agencies and particularly Enterprise Ireland in this case.”
Figures from ABSEI research conducted in 2016 show that Údarás na Gaeltachta client companies had total sales of €926 million in the previous year. Exports grew by 10.6 per cent to €628 million, an export–sales ratio of 68%. Nearly one quarter of Údarás client companies’ exports worth €154 million are to the United Kingdom and nearly 60 per cent (€224m ) of client companies’ raw materials are imported through or from the United Kingdom.
The United Kingdom is generally the first port of call for any company exporting for the first time. Client companies exporting to the United Kingdom depend heavily on this market and any uncertainty could pose trade difficulties. Some €115 million of client company export sales to the United Kingdom come from the BMW region (Galway, Mayo, Donegal ) and €39 million from the Southern and Eastern Region (Kerry, Cork, Waterford, Meath ).
It is more important than ever to make strategic and adequate investment in Gaeltacht infrastructure and in the infrastructure of Údarás na Gaeltachta so that potential business opportunities, especially those involving Foreign Direct Investment, which may arise as a result of these geopolitical changes, may be fully exploited for the benefit of the Gaeltacht.