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Irish Spirits Industry Briefs MEPs On Brexit Border Risks

By Dave Simpson

MEP’s were today (Thursday May 31) warned that the avoidance of a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit was essential for Ireland’s whiskey and spirits industry, which currently operates on an integrated all-island basis with seamless cross-border supply chains.

William Lavelle, head of the Irish Spirits Association, was briefing MEPs at the European Parliament today. He said that the whiskey and spirits industry needed “the maximum possible alignment” between UK (particularly Northern Ireland) and the EU, with a view to avoiding any disruption to cross-border supply chains.

Lavelle told MEP's that if a better solution cannot be found through negotiations, then the ‘backstop’ agreement must apply.

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At this stage, it is believed that a backstop would involve Northern Ireland, or possibly the UK as a whole, aligning with the EU rules required to support North-South cooperation and an all-island economy.

The Irish Spirits Association is part of the the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland. The ABFI has been actively engaging with the Irish and UK governments as well as with the EU Commission on a wide range of Brexit-related challenges and questions facing Ireland's all-island drinks industry.

Speaking at today's event in Strasbourg, Lavelle said, “The spirits industry is one of Ireland’s fastest-growing export sectors and one of the largest buyers of Irish agricultural raw materials. Therefore, it’s essential that it’s safeguarded from risks associated with Brexit.

“One such risk is supply chain disruption between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“Currently there are many examples to demonstrate how Ireland’s drinks industry operates on an integrated all-island basis. Irish whiskey distillers in Northern Ireland purchase nearly all of their malted barley from the Irish Republic. Additionally, malt or grain whiskey produced in one jurisdiction is transported on a daily basis to the other as part of the production of blended whiskeys.

“Therefore, the avoidance of a hard border in Ireland is essential for the all-island spirits industry.”

© 2018 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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