The Government has launched a €300m loan scheme for Irish companies to offset the potential impacts of Brexit. 

A total of €300m is available to eligible businesses with up to 499 employees at an interest rate of 4% or less.

The scheme, which has the potential to benefit over 5,000 companies, will see Bank of Ireland and Ulster Bank start to offer loans now. AIB will start offering loans in June. 

The new scheme will be delivered by the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland and is supported by an agreement with the European Investment Fund. 

"The scheme will provide much-needed finance to eligible business impacted by the UK's decision to leave the European Union," the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys said.

"I am confident that it will make a real difference to firms, enabling them to adapt, change and innovate. This, in turn, will help them to become more competitive, a fundamental trait in any resilient business", the Minister added. 

At the launch of the scheme today, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the Government recognises the importance of the SME sector to the Irish economy and the potential risks that Brexit will bring to this sector. 

"This scheme is designed to assist SMEs with their short term working capital needs, supporting them in preparing for the challenges that may lie ahead," it added. 

"It will give SMEs time and the financial support to make the necessary changes to help ensure that their businesses remain competitive so that they can continue to grow into the future," Mr Donohoe said.