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Chartered Accountants Ulster Society reveals results of Brexit survey

Chartered Accountants Ulster Society has voiced concerns over the impact that Brexit may have on the Northern Ireland economy, and on the peace process.

Key findings in the survey include

  • 62% said that they expect Brexit to have a negative effect on their business. 28% said that they don’t know. 10% felt that Brexit would be positive for their business.
  • 70% feel that the Northern Ireland peace process would be compromised if a hard border is put in place on the island of Ireland, 23% say that a hard border would not compromise the peace process.
  • 78% said that the EU’s proposed backstop arrangement would benefit Northern Ireland business, 15% felt that it would not be beneficial.
  • 82% feel that the voice of Northern Ireland’s business community was not being heard in the local debate about Brexit. 14% feel that the voice of business had been represented.
  • 49% felt that a deal between the EU and UK was likely, 37% felt that a deal was unlikely.
  • In terms of the breakdown of those surveyed, 41% work in business; 33% work in an accounting practice; 19% work in the Public Sector/ voluntary or not for profit sector; 7% in none of the above.

Brexit Pulse survey

In a ‘Brexit Pulse’ survey of 424 accountants run by Chartered Accountants Ulster Society, 62% said that they expect Brexit to have a negative effect on their business. 28% said that they don’t know if Brexit will be positive or negative for their business while 10% felt that Brexit would be positive for their business.

When asked if they felt that the Northern Ireland peace process would be compromised if a hard border is put in place on the island of Ireland, 70% said ‘Yes’, 23% said ‘No’ and 7% said ‘Don’t Know’.

The survey also found strong support for the EU’s proposed ‘backstop’ which would keep Northern Ireland aligned with EU single market rules. 78% said that it would benefit Northern Ireland business, 15% felt that it would not be beneficial, with 7% unsure either way.

A clear majority of the Chartered Accountants who responded to the survey felt that the voice of Northern Ireland’s business community was not being heard in the local debate about Brexit (82%). 14% felt that the voice of business had been represented in the debate, with 4% unsure either way.

The survey was taken right before Tuesday’s rumours of a potential agreement between the UK and EU, and those surveyed were asked about the likelihood of a deal being reached. Almost half (49%) felt that a deal was likely, 37% felt that a deal was unlikely, with 14% unsure either way.

Niall Harkin, Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society which represents over 4,600 Chartered Accountants in Northern Ireland, said: “Our members are sending a message that they feel Brexit will have a negative impact on Northern Ireland business.

“There is a strong feeling that the voice of the business community has not been heard in the local debate around Brexit. Overall the feeling from our members is one of uncertainty. There is some frustration that the democratic deficit at Stormont has been a significant impediment in representing the interests of Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.

“The situation is moving quickly this week and it remains to be seen whether a deal between the EU and UK can be finalised and supported through all remaining hurdles. On balance our members feel that a deal can be done. If so we hope that we can move on quickly to a situation where businesses can have certainty on the future trading reality.”