Fianna Fáil’s MEP candidate for Midlands North West, Thomas Byrne, has advised voters to be wary of “the type of Eurosceptic arguments being peddled in this election by Deputy Luke Ming Flanagan and Sinn Féin”.

“In his election canvass card and in a recent radio debate with me, Deputy Flanagan said he wants to go back to the type of Europe Ireland joined in 1973. He also wants the Euro to be scrapped or – failing that – for Ireland to go it alone with our own currency.

“We all know you cannot turn back the clock but even if we could, what was the Ireland of 1973 like? Our average income was less than half that in the rest of the European Economic Community – as it then was – our farm prices and incomes were totally depressed. We were heavily dependent on Britain to buy our exports and our roads, ports and airports were hardly fit for purpose. Is that what Deputy Flanagan wants us to go back to? We have had our difficulties with Europe and the Europe Union has caused us problems but, overall, our membership of the Union has changed our people’s lives for the better. We need to stick with Europe but to fight harder to make it work better for us.

“Like many who play the Eurosceptic card, Deputy Flanagan is vocal about leaving the European Union and the Euro but is slow to tell voters the disastrous consequences of this approach:

Overnight there would be a massive increase in interest rates as the Central Bank vainly tried to stem a flow of funds out of Ireland, plunging householders already in negative equity and burdened with mortgages and debt into even greater debt.

Imports would be dearer, transport costs would rocket and there would be huge increases in the cost of living and in unemployment as the overseas purchasing power of a new Irish currency plummets.

Jobs would be threatened as new Foreign Direct Investment dries up because companies would no longer have guaranteed free access to the EU market. Even existing FDI companies might relocate to an EU member state.

With no more CAP and no more LEADER funds rural Ireland would be devastated by plunging farm incomes and rural development would be set back significantly.

Instead of being a respected player in European Union negotiations, Ireland would become a helpless pawn.

“This is the reality of the Euroscepticism that Deputy Ming Flanagan is advocating in this election. Ireland must look to the future in Europe not hark back to the past. We must be confident in our ability to argue our case and fight our corner successfully. That has been the Fianna Fáil way since Jack Lynch and Paddy Hillery negotiated our EEC membership. If I am elected to the European Parliament on May 23rd, that will be my way too.”