Louth TD Seamus Kirk has expressed concern that the Government has no clear contingency plan in the event the UK decides it wants to leave the EU. In response to a parliamentary question, Minister Eamon Gilmore could only say that the Government is monitoring the situation closely.
“I am extremely worried about the Government’s lack of planning this issue. Ireland stands to be the most affected by a possible UK exit from the EU. The UK, and more specifically England, is growing ever more sceptical of its membership of the Union and a referendum is due to be held, possibly after the UK General Election next year. If this is the case, the Government should be drafting a contingency plan for this country now”, commented Deputy Kirk.
“No other country will be as affected by the UK breaking away from the EU. We joined at the same time back in 1973 because of our deep economic links. Those links remain today. The UK is still our largest trading partner and it provided more than €3 billion for the bailout programme, despite not being a member of the Euro. A UK exit could also have a major impact on the level of border controls we need, as well as greater border enforcement on flights and ferry crossings between the UK and Ireland. Any additional measures would have a major impact on exchequer spending here.
“I find the Government’s lack of consideration for any of these issues extremely disconcerting. The Minister is choosing to ignore the possibility of a UK exit from the EU in the hope that it will go away, rather than put any effort into devising a contingency plan. This is a very dangerous tactic and will result in haphazard measures being introduced in the event that the UK votes in favour of leaving the EU. I would urge the Minister to reconsider his current position and come up with a detailed strategy to deal with the possibility of a UK exit, rather than burying his head in the sand and waiting until it’s too late to formulate a legitimate plan for Ireland”.