Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs & Trade Brendan Smith has emphasised the importance of maintaining a consistent dialogue with the British Government ahead of the planned referendum on EU membership. It has been reported that a parliamentary Bill paving the way for the vote will be published next week.
Deputy Smith commented, “The outcome of the British General Election and the return of an overall Conservative majority will see the realisation of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Any move by the UK to leave the EU has the potential to destabilise the relationship between Ireland and Britain, as well as having serious consequences for our economy. It is imperative that Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan continues press the importance of EU membership with the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
“While I respect the sovereignty of each country to make its own decisions, the impact of a possible British exit from the EU on Ireland cannot be underestimated. Ireland has a major selfish and strategic interest in Britain continuing its membership of the EU. There is over €1 billion of bilateral trade per week between the two countries and our two economies are very strongly linked. Therefore, there is an onus on us to get a clear message to the British Government about the value and strength of its continued membership of the EU, which will also be beneficial to our country.
“The EU has made a very valuable contribution in bringing about the major political progress witnessed in Northern Ireland and a strong pro-EU sentiment is widely felt throughout the six counties. I grew up along the Border, with its customs posts and permanent vehicle checkpoints. I do not want to see a return to those days.
“I sincerely hope the Minister will continue to send a strong message to the British Government that membership of the EU, with access to 500 million people in a Single Market and the very valuable trade on a bilateral basis throughout the EU, is of critical importance to all the people on this island”.