Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has announced the creation of a Brexit Loan Scheme.

He told the Dáil that it is clear there is likely to be permanent changes to the country's trade patterns because of the UK vote to leave the European Union.

A loan scheme of up to €300m will be available at "competitive" rates to SMEs - including food businesses - given their unique exposure to the UK market, to help them with their short-term working capital needs.

The scheme will be run along with the Departments of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

The scheme is supported by the European Investment Bank Group, the European Commission and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland.

Ireland, which after Brexit will have the European Union's only land border with the UK, is widely seen as the EU country most exposed to the fall-out from Britain’s leaving the bloc in 2019.

The Minister also said the Department for Business, Enterprise and Innovation will have a total budget of €871m next year.

He said this will enable the recruitment of over 40 staff across the department and enterprise agencies to boost the country's ability to proactively respond to the challenges and opportunities that Brexit will present. 

Minister for Agriculture, Food, and the Marine Michael Creed has said that at least 40% of the of the low interest loans that will be made available in the Brexit Loan Scheme will be allocated to agri-food businesses.

He said that since his department contributed €9m of the core funding to the scheme, compared with €14m contributed by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, that businesses in the agri-food sector should be entitled to at least 40% the loans that will now be available.

The funding provided by both Government departments enabled hundreds of millions of euro to be borrowed at a cheap rate from the European Investment Bank, and that money will now be lent out to the business sector at very low interest rates.

The total amount of these cheap loans available for business to draw down will be €300m.

Mr Creed also said that in addition to this, his department has allocated another €25m to provide for the development of a further Brexit response loan scheme that will be designed specifically for farmers, fishermen, and food businesses in 2018.

However, the minister said the details of how this additional low interest loan scheme for farmers will be operated have not yet been worked out.

He said that the lessons of a similar cheap loan scheme for farmers last year have to be taken into account before the new details are finalised.

Mr Creed said that he wanted the new farm loan scheme to be up and running as soon as possible.