Cork Chamber Christmas Gift Guide 2021

It’s that time of year again! We would like to encourage our Cork Chamber members to support local businesses and jobs when doing their Christmas shopping this year. Here is our weekly one-stop Christmas Gift Guide of offers, services and events available to you to shop local.

20 December 2021

15 December 2021

08 December 2021

03 December 2021

24 November 2021

17 November 2021

Take time to understand the future of EU-UK trade

Time is of the Essence

Change is never easy. When the UK became a ‘third country’ for the purposes of trade and customs on 1 January 2021, it understandably caused a lot of well-documented challenges for Irish businesses, and for their counterparts in the UK. Although, it was never going to be an easy transition, the timing of Brexit, in tandem with a global pandemic, has challenged business to find the time to prepare for an uncertain future, when there was very little clarity as to what exactly lay ahead.
While the conclusion of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) at the final hour was a positive outcome, as it eliminated the possibility of WTO tariffs, the announcement undoubtedly spread confusion. Many SMEs assumed that we had dodged a bullet and expected that there would therefore be no disruption, or no paperwork required, for trade between the UK and EU.

At Cork Chamber, we have been listening to and advising businesses on some of the issues they have experienced since 1st January and have put together a few tips for consideration:

Don’t assume that someone else will take care of it!

Many SMEs who never had a contract in place with their UK supplier or customer, are now facing a dispute as to who must complete the customs paperwork. Reluctance by a UK partner or distributor to complete import declarations has resulted in some companies being forced to decide whether to set up their own UK entity or to try and find another partner in the UK to complete the import declarations on their behalf. Companies who may need to draw up a contract for the first time can find a handbook on model contracts on the website of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), where they will also find information on Incoterms (standard terms of trade for contracts that establish exactly where the risk and responsibilities lie for both the buyer and seller during the delivery process).

Know your products inside out

Confusion around ‘Rules of Origin’ and what constitutes ‘proof’ of origin still remains a key source of uncertainty for many SMEs. If you are manufacturing, importing or exporting a physical product, it is vital that you know exactly what raw materials or components are used to make your product and the origin of these parts. Establishing the exact origin of a product which has multiple component parts can be a complex process but is an essential task. Depending on the origin of your product, you may be eligible for preferential or zero-rate tariffs and duties. However, mis-representing the origin of a product – either wilfully or mistakenly – could result in the company having to retrospectively pay any back-taxes and duties if uncovered by a customs audit.

Preferential status for EU and UK products

The EU has the world’s largest network of trade agreements comprising 46 agreements with 78 countries. You can check whether your products are eligible for ‘preferential status’ under any of these agreements by consulting the online Access2Markets database, recently upgraded by the European Commission, and containing product-by-product information for all EU countries and for more than 120 export markets around the world.In the case of products for which you are declaring EU or UK origin in order to avail of tariff-free trade with the UK, you will need to be able to prove the origin of your goods with backup documentation such as a supplier or manufacturer declaration. (In Ireland, Chambers of Commerce are the official bodies authorised by statute to issue and authorise documents called ‘Certificates of Origin’, however these relate to non-preferential trade. It is important to note therefore, that a formal ‘Certificate of Origin’ document is not required for EU – UK trade, except perhaps in certain cases, for example if your UK partner is later going to be re-exporting the product to another third country. If you have further queries on this process you can contact the Exports team at Cork Chamber for advice.)

There and back again

Many companies have been left wondering how to account for products that are being shipped abroad temporarily or for repair or processing, before being re-imported to Ireland. There are several scenarios that allow you to temporarily waive or delay the payment of customs duties, however certain conditions apply and there is paperwork involved in each case. An ATA Carnet is an international customs document (issued by Cork or Dublin Chamber) which waives the requirement to pay customs duties when goods are temporarily exported, once the terms of the Carnet are met (goods must be returned within the stipulated timeframe and must be in the same state in which they were originally exported). The Carnet requires a financial guarantee, can only be used for specific categories of goods and is limited to exportation of professional equipment; goods for display or use at exhibitions, fairs or meetings; commercial samples. Companies can also use the Revenue’s ‘temporary admissions procedure’ for similar situations. However, if you are exporting goods for further processing or repair, you should explore the Revenue’s ‘outward processing procedure’, whereby you may be able to claim full or partial relief from import charges when these goods are re-imported. More information on these procedures is available from Revenue.

The future of EU trade

Brexit has highlighted the vulnerability of Ireland as an island on the periphery of Europe, which is highly dependent on imports and exports to keep our economy moving. However, the EU is an open single market with over 450 million consumers and Ireland’s position within this market as an English speaking and open economy is strong. As an economic block, the EU is looking for new opportunities to remove trade barriers and tariffs between the EU and third countries (outside the EU Single Market) and to further support the movement of goods, services, capital and people. Trade barriers removed between 2014-2018 generated at least €8 billion of additional exports by EU companies in 2019, helping support hundreds of thousands of jobs. The recent launch of the European Commission’s future trade strategy, showed that the EC will continue to push for further reforms in global trade, ensuring it is rules-based, and strongly supports the sustainability and digitalisation agendas. Ireland will play its part in these efforts.


Becoming compliant with the new rules in relation to EU-UK trade is not impossible, but it does require SMEs to develop an in-depth knowledge and understanding of all the relationships and rules affecting their supply chain. This takes time, which is undoubtedly something that is always in short supply for small companies. However, your local Chambers, trade associations and state agencies are all on hand to advise you and support you to understand the many regulations and navigate through the multiple resources that are available.

Visit for Cork Chamber’s international services page, with extensive advice on Brexit and to make contact with one of the team.

Cork landscape

What’s changed in Planning and Development

Cork lanscape

On Friday April 17th, a further extension of 19 days was announced to the public participation period in the planning system. More information can be accessed here.

This further extension impacts in the following ways:

If an application was lodged before or on Friday 21 February 2020, the public participation phase is completed, and so a planning authority can make a decision within the extended deadline;
If an application was lodged after that date, but before 29 March 2020, the decision cannot be made until after 9 May 2020 to ensure that the public participation element has been completed;
If an application is lodged after 29 March 2020, it cannot be determined by the Planning Authority until after the expiration of the five week period for public consultation, which now commences on 10 May 2020, so subject to the date on which an application is submitted, the earliest a decision could be made would be Monday 15 June 2020.
The extended time will also apply to planning appeals, which An Bord Pleanála will continue to receive by post.

The Department continues to recommend to planning authorities that public consultation and council meeting activity on all Plans be deferred until after the extension period, which will now end on 9 May 2020.



COVID-19 Emergency Legislation overview

On Sunday 29th March, the Government approved a request by Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to extend by 23 days the statutory time period for processing planning applications under the Planning Acts.

In brief, this means that if a planning application was lodged prior to February 21st, the public participation phase is completed, and the relevant planning authority can make a decision within the extended deadline. However, if an application was lodged after February 21st and before March 29th, the decision cannot be made until after the 20th of April.

If the planning application is lodged after March 29th, it cannot be decided by the relevant planning authority until the five-week period for public consultation on the application commences, which will commence after April 20. Essentially the order applies to all applications lodged after the February 21, with decisions on these not be made until after April 20.

All public meetings associated with planning, or appeals are now officially deferred until the restrictions on the movement of the public are lifted. The changes also apply to appeals to An Bord Pleanála. The Department has also recommended to planning authorities that public meetings on all Plans be officially deferred for the period of the extension. This includes Development Plan, Development Plan Variations and Local Area Plan processes. As such Cork County Development Plan 2022 – 2028 has had its submission deadline to the public consultation phase extended to the 2nd June.

The emergency legislation was passed to safeguard the integrity of decision making, to ensure the ongoing work and function of planning and development processes and its role in supporting social and economic activity when this COVID 19 emergency is past.

In more detail, here are the key points and applications of the emergency legislation:

The circular published on March 29th from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government outlines the actions across the planning functions being taken in response to COVID-19 and the evolving situation.

New Section 251A of the Planning and Development Act
A new provision (Section 251A) has been inserted into the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended (the Act).
1. To the effect that the period from 29th March 2020 to the 20 April 2020, inclusive, may be disregarded when calculating any appropriate period, specified period, or other timelines in the following Acts, or provisions, or in any regulations made under those acts or provisions:
I. The Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended;
II. The Derelicts Sites Act, 1990;
III. Part 2 of the Urban Regenerations and Housing Act, 2015 (which relates to the vacant site levy);
IV. Chapter 1 of Part 2 of the Planning and Development (Housing) and Residential Tenancies Act, 2016 (which relates the Strategic Housing Developments)

Government confirms that the planning system has not been paused, instead the timelines have been extended wherein decisions can be made.

2. The second focus of the measures relates specifically to two regulations geared at addressing developments during this emergency.
I. The Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) (No.2) Regulations, 2020 – during the period of the COVID-19 emergency, a change in use from a premises selling food for consumption on the premises to one providing food for takeaway is considered an exempt development.
II. The Planning and Development Act 2000 (Section 181) Regulations, 2020 states that the Planning and Development Act 2000 will not be applied to certain classes of development by or on behalf of a State authority.
i. This may include the change of use and repurposing of existing buildings and facilities, and/or the provision of temporary new-build accommodation and structures to address the COVID-19 civil emergency.

Guidance on enforcement
This relates to essential retail operators and refers to the ongoing efforts to ensure that food and other supplies can be delivered in a safe and timely manner. In some instances, this may lead to a technical contravening of planning conditions that restrict times of deliveries. Such technical contraventions may also occur outside of retail, such as in the case of childcare facilities, those established for front line workers.
I. The approach to enforcement in this will be pragmatic and measured, and the discretion available to planning authorities under the relevant Sections of the Planning Act, should be applied insofar as possible, other than in circumstances where such operations could seriously impact on public health and welfare. The Minister has issued guidance under Section 28 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended.

Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF)
This is due to take on increased importance post the pandemic shock. It is recognised that the URDF has unique potential to accelerate economic and social revitalisation in cities and large towns.
I. As such, the Department’s objective is to continue the URDF supported programme and is committed to progressing the projects already approved under Call 1 and to the continuation of the programme under Call 2.
II. There has been an extension to the deadline for receipt of applications under Call 2 to 29 May 2020.

Foreshore applications will continue to progress in accordance with health guidance.

Finally, the Planning Division will continue to work with planning authorities.

Further updates


Office of the Planning Regulator

To contact a member of the Public Affairs team CLICK HERE

Covid 19

Important Update to all Members

Covid 19

Cork Chamber are monitoring the unfolding situation around COVID-19. Today An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, TD, announced additional measures to protect citizens which are designed to delay the spread of COVID-19, and we commend Government for this decisive action (linked below).

“Protection of our citizens is paramount and while this move poses certain challenges for all, it is critical that we all play our part in helping to contain the virus and therefore helping to limit the economic impact. Every company has a unique set of dynamics to consider in managing personnel, operations and risk factors and we encourage all businesses to be prudent following Government and HSE guidelines, and to avail of relevant supports made available to businesses and employees.” Conor Healy, CEO Cork Chamber.

The Chamber are planning to deliver certain meetings and events online over the coming weeks and the Chamber team will continue with its work and role in support of our membership base across the city region. We are adapting our work practices and operations to fulfil Government guidelines and we remain available to provide the service to which you are accustomed.

This is a time of heightened uncertainty for citizens and the business community alike. The support of community is central to maintaining Cork’s resilience and we will stay in touch to support one another.

Here are official Government resources Relating to COVID-19 you may find helpful:

Government update March 12th (covering recommendations to employers, closure of schools, advice on mass gatherings and more)
Guide for Business Continuity Planning
Supports for Employees Impacted by COVID-19
Travel Advice: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland
Health Service Executive Advice
Senior Care Helpline : 1800 80 45 91

Covid-19 business supports

Supports for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Covid-19 business supports

At Cork Chamber we are monitoring the unfolding situation surrounding the COVID-19 virus on a national and international basis. We are liaising with local and national government to bring updates and guidance for you and your business.

The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has put a range of supports in place and we encourage our members to access available supports to help navigate these uncertain times.

  • A €200m Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland (SBCI) Working Capital scheme for eligible businesses impacted by COVID-19. Loans of up to €1.5m will be available at reduced rates, with up to the first €500,000 unsecured. Applications can be made through the SBCI website 
  • A €200m Package for Enterprise Supports including a Rescue and Restructuring Scheme available through Enterprise Ireland for vulnerable but viable firms that need to restructure or transform their business.
  • The maximum loan available from MicroFinance Ireland will be increased from €25,000 to €50,000 as an immediate measure to specifically deal with exceptional circumstances that micro-enterprises – (sole traders and firms with up to 9 employees) – are facing. Applications can be made through the MFI website  or through your local LEO.
  • The Credit Guarantee Scheme will be available to COVID-19 impacted firms through the Pillar Banks. Loans of up to €1m will be available at terms of up to 7 years.

The following supports are available for firms experiencing trading difficulties and short-term shocks:

  • The Department of Employment Affairs & Social Protection and the Department of Business, Enterprise & Innovation will provide a joint First Responder support service through the Intreo Offices and development agencies, Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland in each region to provide tailored supports for impacted firms, with objective of avoiding mass lay-offs and buying time for firms to work through the short-term disruptions.
  • Firms that need to reduce hours or days worked can avail of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection Short Term Work Support by contacting their local Intreo Office, see
  • The full range of Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, Local Enterprise Office and Údarás na Gaeltachta grant supports will be available to firms to help with strategies to innovate, diversify markets and supply chains and to improve competitiveness.
  • Local Enterprise Offices in Cork will be providing vouchers from €2,500 up to €10,000 (with 50:50 match funding) to support business continuity preparedness, innovation and productivity.

We encourage business to avail of this user friendly Continuity Checklist which is designed to improve business preparedness for disruptions to services and trading as a result of COVID-19. This can be downloaded here.

For employees:

A suite of supports has been announced to give greater support to employees and self-employed. See more here.

Covid-19 Employee benefit

Supports for Employees Impacted by COVID-19

Covid-19 Employee benefit

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection are introducing measures to provide income support to people affected by COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

3 major changes have been announced:

  • the current 6-day waiting period for Illness Benefit will not apply to anyone who has COVID-19 (Coronavirus) or is in medically-required self-isolation
  • the personal rate of Illness Benefit will increase from €203 per week to €305 per week for a maximum of 2 weeks medically-required self-isolation or for the full duration of absence from work following a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)
  • the normal social insurance requirements for Illness Benefit will be changed or the means test for Supplementary Welfare Allowance will be removed

You can access public health advice about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) at the government’s information page. has more on “COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information for Employers and Employees” here.

Details on supports for businesses are posted here.

Covid 19

COVID-19 – Contingency Planning

Covid 19


The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation has published a user-friendly checklist identifying a range of issues for enterprise to consider in responding to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Government of Ireland Advice:

Health Service Executive Health Protection Surveillance Centre:

Travel Advice Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ireland:

Government has agreed national actions, cancellation of St Patrick’s Festival and new support for heath service, business and workers :

CMATS, Cork Transport Plans

Cork Infrastructure – Getting the right transport strategy is vital for the future of the region.

CMATS, Cork Transport Plans

Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS)

In 2020 it’s very easy to make quick, inflammatory statements that sound great but do nothing to address the complex and holistic nature of the challenges we face as a society. Across the breadth of societal issues from housing and healthcare, to foreign policy and trade there is a growing tendency to oversimplify issues, and to jump fully into the silo of your choosing. Transport is one such issue where, for example, some would argue exclusively for public and active transport, while others heavily prioritise roads.

CMATS – Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy
Fortunately for Cork, Government policy and stakeholder consensus is on the verge of being enshrined in a National Transport Authority plan called the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) which comprehensively demonstrates that the answer for Cork includes road, bus, cycle, walking and rail. To support the implementation of this strategy, the Chamber has called for a Cork NTA office and for the Strategy to be set in legislation to ensure tenacity and delivery.

Some Reasons CMATS is important:

  • 100km of new and upgraded footpath
  • 140km of greenways
  • 250% increase in footfall on St Patricks Street350km of cycle network & 60km of inter urban cycle network
  • 100km of bus lanes with 6 strategic park and rides
  • 22 new 2 car trains and 8 new suburban rail stations such as Kilbarry
  • 17km of light rail with a 5-minute frequency

CMATS also references roads projects such as the M28 to Ringaskiddy, the northern ring road, Dunkettle interchange and the M20 to Limerick which are important facilitators of the exemplary public and active transport that we wish to see dominate our metropolitan area. They take account of the National Planning Framework by enhancing the connectivity of Ireland’s 2nd and 3rd largest City regions. They enable the Port of Cork to make the historic move to Ringaskiddy, thus making our docklands and Tivoli the home to a thriving City community and solidifying the role of the Port in global shipping. They also pave the way for options such as a city centre HGV ban in doing so enhance City Centre air quality, pedestrian and cycle safety. They make journeys safer, quieter and less pollutant by removing hazards and congestion and routing necessary commercial vehicular movement away from communities.

Strategic Upgrades & Spend Ratio
A limited suite of carefully planned strategic upgrades is therefore a functional necessity for Cork. This accepted, the remaining element of debate in the well-worn battle line between the committed public and active transport advocate and the roads promoter is which should be prioritised and the spend ratio between the former and the latter. In a 2019 Citizens Assembly vote, 90% wanted to flip the roads to public transport spend ratio from 2:1 to 1:2. While the precise impacts of such a move are untested the sentiment is clear. It must also be noted that the Cork Chamber membership have consistently elevated public transport and housing as the top two priorities during the same period.

The Chamber has repeatedly called for the first €500 million to be made available for CMATS delivery with an immediate focus of the delivery of Bus Connects, the Cork Cycle Network and pedestrian improvements, and increased frequency on our existing rail. It is also important to acknowledge that the cost of bringing projects through planning is a fraction of the cost of delivery. The long-term nature of the process and tendency for objections creates a major frustration for project timelines. As such, there is a need for multiple activity streams to ensure that Cork does not stall based on over reliance on a small handful of enticing projects. It is also worth noting that funding models of various formats such as PPP can be used to make certain projects happen. There can be no reason for lack of ambition or delivery and the burden need not rest exclusively with the State. There is also no reason why the spend ratio in a place like Cork cannot fluctuate and evolve as specific projects are brought to fruition.

In 2020 building a new road may not capture the imagination like a cycle lane or greenway. However, the M20 offers an opportunity for Ireland to build the best integrated motorway in Europe. There is no reason why public transport cannot be the dominant mode of travel at the point of interaction with both Cork and Limerick Cities. CMATS and its Limerick equivalent can provide for this. At each city entrance bus corridors can be incorporated with park and rides. From this point, bus frequency and reliability are key to traffic free intercity travel. HGV’s can move unhindered and shoppers and schoolchildren can cross the road in Charleville and Buttevant without diesel engines churning around them. The town centre can become a quality space for people. With a national tree planting strategy of 22million trees per annum there can surely be room for a significant contribution to indigenous planting along the whole of the route corridor. The relative cost would be negligible. There should be cycle corridors adjacent, in parallel or incorporated to the new M20 or along the old N20 route.

True Mobility
The route to mobility in a city region like Cork will require an acknowledgement that all assets will be required. Following this is a question of prioritisation, what can be done, what is most strategic, which projects can be brought through planning while others are in construction. With gestation periods of decades there is no such thing as a quick win with roads infrastructure. But while a road rumbles through the planning process, multiple fine grain interventions can be delivered. Delivery of CMATS will define the success of Cork.

Thomas Mc Hugh, Director of Public Affairs & Communications at Cork Chamber

Published by The Irish Examiner, March 02, 2020

“As transformative as the Euro” – New EU Green Deal Explained

A month into office, new EU Commission President Ursula Von der Layen presented ‘the European Green Deal’; an ambitious strategy to transform Europe’s economy for a sustainable future.

Described in Brussels circles as being “as transformative as the Euro”, the Green Deal will frame every project, policy, regulation or investment decision made under Von der Layen’s commission.

So, what’s this deal about and what can we expect?

More Ambitious Climate Targets

Put simply, the Green Deal sets new, more ambitious climate targets while also decoupling economic growth from resource use. Critically, the Deal aims to ensure that the EU economy remains competitive during the green transition and that no groups of citizens, or sectors, are left behind.

As with any plan, delivery is key. To successfully transform the Europe into becoming more sustainable, much will depend on raising finance to stimulate investment, mobilise innovation and change how we heat our buildings, consume products, or transport people.

8 Core Areas

The Deal covers eight core areas:

  • Increased climate targets for 2030 and 2050
  • Supplying clean, affordable and secure energy
  • Mobilising industry for a clean and circular economy
  • Building in an energy and resource efficient way
  • Shifting to sustainable and smart mobility
  • ‘Farm to Fork’ environmentally friendly food systems
  • Preserving eco systems and biodiversity
  • Zero pollution and toxic free environments

A Just Transition

To meet its targets, the EU will be launching the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan (SEIP) and a Just Transition Mechanism. The EIB is set to re-position itself as a ‘climate bank’. Meanwhile, the SEIP aims to mobilise a €1 trillion fund, with at least 25% coming from the EU budget.

Furthermore, the Just Transition Fund will contain approx. €100 billion to support regions most exposed to transition challenges within each member state. Of this, circa €50 billion will come from the Commission and the balance from a public sector loan facility through the EIB.

The word from Brussels is clear: The future of Europe is a greener Europe; a Europe which cares about the environment and a world leader in sustainability.  And so, it is incumbent on us all to make the most of this opportunity.