Image by Pedro Vilas Boas

Brexit will happen (or not) regardless of what Dublin City Council does, but Fianna Fáil Councillor Paul McAuliffe still wants the council to consider its likely impacts, talk about how to prepare for them, and make their voices heard.

Soon after the referendum result was announced, McAuliffe — who is chair of council’s Economic Development and Enterprise Strategic Policy Committee (SPC) — booked the council chamber at City Hall for a summit on the issue.

“Everyone’s talking about it,” he says. “People don’t know what to do.”

Here’s why you might be interested: the discussion will be webcast, so you can tune in and hear what speakers from all kinds of Dublin groups and organisations have to say about the fallout.

Who Can Go?

There are 40 spots available for organisations that want to take part. McAuliffe says he will try to include as diverse a crowd as possible, prioritising those with expertise.

He’s reached out to the city’s business associations, start-up organisations and financial service representatives, as well as the research community, the education community, trade unions and even patients’ groups.

Patients’ groups — particularly those who represent patients with rare diseases — might have issues around access to treatment in British hospitals, says McAuliffe.

“There’s actually lots of implications,” he says. “So we’re trying to reach out to everybody to make sure it’s representative and also include the different political groupings and the SPC members too.”

It will be a wide-ranging debate, he says. “There will be up to 40 leaders from different sectors in the city who are going to discuss, firstly, the challenges and, secondly, the potential positives,” he says.

He was inspired to host the event after Dublin Commissioner for Start-Ups Niamh Bushnell circulated an optimistic outlook, in which she said she wanted to focus on the upsides.

Brexit poses challenge for Irish start-ups, especially those targeting the UK, she said. But she argues that Dublin should position itself as the best place in Europe to start an innovative company now that British cities might be less appealing.

So far, a lot of people have shown an interest in taking part in the discussions, but the final list of speakers isn’t set yet. “It’s a small chamber so we have to fit everybody in,” says McAuliffe.

Using the chamber and webcast for a meeting that is not solely about council business is a bit of a departure from the norm.

“It’s part of a growing trend for SPC chairs to seek out how they can use their role more and how we can use City Hall more,” says McAuliffe. “There is an increasing awareness that for the SPCs to work, we have to go beyond the standard formulaic meetings.”

Most chairs seem to work that way, he said. Rebecca Moynihan, who heads up the arts committee, held a forum to explore the city’s rules on busking, for example.

If you want to tune in, the council chamber will host the Dublin City Brexit Summit next Wednesday 13 July between 10am and 12.30pm.

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