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2016 National Risk Assessment


National Risk Assessment – Overview of Strategic Risks

The Government is today publishing the National Risk Assessment 2016 – Overview of Strategic Risks.  This follows a consultation process based on a draft published earlier in the year.

This is the third year in which the National Risk Assessment (NRA) has been published.

It is part of a process to facilitate a more open discussion on strategic risks which face the country – and to avoid some of the mistakes of the recent past.

Ireland is exposed to many global and regional forces and trends. As a small trading nation, we are dependent on remaining open to sustain our prosperity. But we cannot ignore the vulnerabilities that such openness brings.

We must also acknowledge that there are many domestic issues which may give rise to severe risks. There may also be risks whose significance is not fully understood.

This is why consultation with interested parties is integral to the National Risk Assessment process.

Being open to a range of views helps Government achieve a comprehensive perspective on a variety of different risks – and encourages others to think critically about risks.

The National Risk Assessment is produced through collaboration with all Government Departments and with interested parties throughout society through seminars and a public consultation process.

The National Risk Assessment process is still being developed and improved.  However in its first three years it has shown its potential in identifying several risks and tracing how they have developed.

For example, the 2014 National Risk Assessment was one of the first official publications to identify Brexit as a strategic risk for Ireland.  In the same year, the National Risk Assessment recognised that housing output was at historically low levels and needed to be increased to meet demand.

In 2015, the National Risk Assessment noted that, in the context of an economic recovery, there may be unsustainable public expectations and pressure for increased public spending.

While our economic situation continues to improve, with the number of people at work surpassing two million people for the first time since 2009, we recognise that the international environment is as uncertain as ever.

Of course, one of the greatest current sources of uncertainty is Brexit. The final National Risk Assessment being published today underlines its importance, both as a risk in its own right, and as an amplifier of other strategic risks.

Some of the most important repercussions of Brexit include Ireland's trading relations with the UK and the political process in Northern Ireland.

Other changes in the National Risk Assessment published today include a greater focus on:

  • Risks to the stability of the European Union arising from Brexit
  • Demographic changes and the Dependency Ratio

Whilst Government will mobilise itself to deal the immediate impacts of an issue like Brexit, it is important that medium-term challenges, like loss of competitiveness and infrastructural deficits, and longer-term trends, such as demographic change and the impact of chronic diseases, are not neglected.

The Taoiseach has noted that dealing with the risks catalogued in the National Risk Assessment will require the understanding and engagement of many people across our society.  He encourages all parties in the Oireachtas, different stakeholders, and the general public to engage with it.