Bank of Ireland is to earmark €2 billion for a fund to lend to small and medium-sized businesses that need capital to adapt to the challenges of Brexit.

The Central Bank has said that a disorderly Brexit could have very severe and immediately disruptive effects on almost all areas of Ireland's economy. 

According to the central bank's assessment, Britain leaving the European Union without a deal could knock as much as 4 percentage points off the Irish economy's growth rate in its first full year, and up to 6 percentage points over a decade.

"This €2bn fund will provide support to businesses regardless of how the UK exits the EU," said Gavin Kelly, CEO of Retail Ireland at Bank of Ireland.

"Many will need to adapt how they operate as the Brexit outcome becomes clearer. Brexit isn't 'business as usual'," he said.

A spokeswoman for the Bank of Ireland said the fund is for Brexit-related lending and will also support businesses that have deferred Brexit plans because of the heightened uncertainty in the market because of the Brexit negotiations.

"Some of these businesses have no dealings with or through the UK, but have decided to wait until outcome is known to proceed with their plans."

Earlier this month Central Bank chief Philip Lane said: "A sudden, no-deal scenario would have immediate disruptive effects that would permeate almost all areas of economic activity. The agri-food sector would be disproportionately affected, with a corresponding outsized impact on rural regions, especially near the border".