A CROWD of around 200 UK nationals who are living and working in West Cork travelled to Skibbereen on Monday night for an information meeting about the implications of Brexit.
The event was hosted by the British Ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett, who, together with two of his advisors, Duncan Archibald and Melissa Else, gave a detailed presentation at the West Cork Hotel about what people can expect if and when the UK leaves the EU on October 31st.
Mr Barnett, who previously visited Skibbereen as a guest speaker at National Digital Week, said the meeting was convened because there was ‘no substitute for coming and talking to people.’
The ambassador said they were there to listen to people. ‘It’s obvious that a lot of people are very uncertain because they have been used to life with the UK and Ireland as members of the EU,’ he said.
People took comfort from the fact that a memorandum of understanding between the Irish and UK government was signed in May.
It established a Common Travel Area (CTA), which is a reciprocal arrangement between Ireland and the UK.
‘Thanks to the CTA,’ the ambassador said, ‘people’s right to live, work, and many other benefits will be unchanged when the UK leaves the EU.’
There will, however, be some issues to be faced post-Brexit and most of these have been very clearly set out in the ‘Living In Ireland’ guide on the www.gov.uk website.
Melissa Else enumerated some of the most pressing issues. For example, UK residents in Ireland, who have a UK driving licence, must exchange it for an Irish licence after October 31st and this will necessitate an eyesight test.
In respect of motor insurance, Melissa Else said UK nationals, who live in Ireland and drive an Irish-registered vehicle, do not need a green card in the UK.
Green cards are issued by the driver’s insurance company as proof that the vehicle is insured.
The UK will accept a valid tax disc as evidence of motor insurance, but the same does not apply in reverse because the EU will insist on UK-insured vehicles having a green card.
Pet travel was also a big talking point. Melissa Else said: ‘If you have a pet and are looking to travel with your pet after Brexit, the UK has said it will continue to accept EU pet passports so you can travel to the UK.
‘But if you have a UK pet passport, then the EU will not recognise it, so residents in Ireland will need to consider if they want to exchange the pet’s UK passport for an Irish one.’
Furthermore, anyone planning to travel with their pet – even with an EU pet passport – will be subject to certain rules and conditions and may have to give up to four months’ notice.
Ambassador Barnett said he was aware of the fact that there is a large number of UK nationals living in West Cork and said he found the area to be ‘a great place to do business’.
‘We in the British Embassy believe in this region, the south west of Ireland, and Skibbereen, which is why I visited the Ludgate hub earlier today.’