Fianna Fáil TD for Louth Séamus Kirk has called on the Government to develop a strategic position for Ireland to safeguard against a possible United Kingdom exit from the European Union.
Deputy Kirk made the comments after tabling a parliamentary question to the Taoiseach in the Dáil on the matter.
Deputy Kirk said, “The United Kingdom is currently in the midst of a General Election campaign with some participants promising a referendum on EU membership should they form part of the next Government.
“It is inevitable that a UK exit from the EU would have a profound knock on effect on Ireland’s interests. It would frustrate trade with what is our largest trading partner and would also put at risk the numerous cross-border and regional joint projects that we have in place with Northern Ireland.
“The move could also lead to the reintroduction of border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland. This would have a disastrous effect on the people in Louth who travel across the border on a regular basis. A UK exit from the EU would also damage co-operation in tackling cross border crime and would put in jeopardy the strong relationship that has been built between the Gardai and PSNI in recent years.
“It is for the people of the UK to decide for themselves as to whether they want to remain part of the EU if the question is put to them in a referendum. However Ireland has an obligation to highlight the profound benefits associated with EU membership. The Government needs to continue advocating the benefits of EU membership for both Ireland and the UK.
“Nonetheless the Government needs to have a contingency plan in place in case of a UK exit from the EU. I am calling on the Taoiseach to develop a strategic position for Ireland that takes into account the risks for Ireland should the UK decide to leave the EU. These risks must be identified and minimised.
“The Government also needs to reach out to the Irish diaspora in the UK and convince them of the importance of remaining in the UK,” said Deputy Kirk.