News and Views

First ever study showing impact of Brexit on Cork is published

27 Jun 2022
UCC President Prof. John O'Halloran, Dr Mary C. Murphy, and an Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD at the launch of 'Cork and the Brexit Effect'

The first ever study of Brexit’s longer-term consequences for the Cork region notes that the sectors in the South West region which bore the brunt of the fallout from Britain leaving the European Union (EU) included agriculture, finance and industry.

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. Taoiseach Micheál Martin launched the study at an event in UCC. 

The report - Cork and the Brexit Effect - was developed with local business, the tourism sector, higher education, and arts and culture across Cork, and recognises that the material effects of Brexit stretch beyond Northern Ireland and the border region and have had a differentiated regional impact across different parts of Ireland. 

In welcoming the publication of the report, Taoiseach Micheál Martin stated:

Brexit and the Protocol have posed undoubted challenges across these islands. The all-island economy, however, which involves working together, North and South, to meet the major strategic challenges we all face has the potential to deepen cooperation in constructive and mutually beneficial ways. This report highlights how such cooperation might be progressed and achieved here in Cork.

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.

As regards tourism 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.

As the EU’s second largest English speaking city (after Dublin), the study states that Cork has the potential to become a particularly attractive location for international students who might otherwise have chosen Britain for their studies. 

Among the structural challenges to an all-island economy initiative is a limited collective sense in Cork of having a substantive connectivity with Northern Ireland. 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.  

This suite of future proposed actions is based on a shared understanding that having a vibrant, sustainable and successful all-island economy after Brexit, underpinned by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, is no less crucial to stability and prosperity in Cork than anywhere else on the island of Ireland. 

Editor of the report and UCC lecturer, Dr Mary C. Murphy notes: ‘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: ‘This report represents a work of considerable value by Dr Mary C Murphy, a recognised scholar of North-South relationships. 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’.

The report can be found HERE.

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF