Donegal TD Joe McHugh has urged business leaders to capitalise on opportunities being thrown up by Brexit rather than let it define their success.
The Government Chief Whip and Minister for the Irish language, Gaeltacht and the Islands told the Beyond Local – Why Going International Makes Sense conference in Donegal Town today (Friday) that Britain’s split from Europe will open new markets for companies.
Mr McHugh told hundreds of business figures: “This Government appreciates the concerns that many of you have in relation to Brexit. Not least those of you operating in the border counties and those of you exporting to Northern Ireland and Britain.
“But I would urge you not to be defined by Brexit. Despite the difficulties, look at this as an opportunity.”
Mr McHugh highlighted the role of the state’s 31 Local Enterprise Offices in advising businesses to prepare for Brexit; explore new markets; funding for potential exporters; and tailored mentoring and training, among other initiatives.
“It is our Government's ambition to get you, the business leaders of today and tomorrow, thinking global,” the Minister said.
The Beyond Local international conference runs over two days in Solis Lough Eske in Donegal Town.
Mr McHugh added: “We must prepare for the future and that requires looking beyond local, beyond borders and beyond the limits of past ambitions.
“International opportunities are available and conferences such as this are designed to ensure they are embraced with confidence.”Mr McHugh said: “And while we’re here in the beautiful setting of Solis Lough Eske I also want to refute the ill-informed analysis in The Irish Times Business Section this morning on the Government’s Project Ireland 2040.
“It's a terrible analysis of the North West. It accuses the Government of being unable influence policy across the border. Where have they been for the past 20 years?
“The Government has invested €19 million euro in a joint radiotherapy centre in Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry. We have committed €115 million euro to the A5 project, connecting Derry, Donegal and Tyrone and Monaghan to our capital city.
“We have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding between Ulster University and Department of Education. We have an ambitious goal of LYIT becoming a Technological University.
“We have a North West Strategic Partnership, with both the Irish and British Governments involved. And we are focused on creating City Region status for Letterkenny-Derry-Strabane. That is influential. That is strategy. And that is sensible and ambitious forward planning,” he said.