“The Proclamation of Easter Week 1916 included an acknowledgment of Ireland’s reliance on the Irish Diaspora in America and on what it termed ‘gallant allies in Europe’”, Fianna Fáil’s MEP candidate for Ireland North West, Thomas Byrne, has said.

“The Euroscepticism doctrine being peddled by some candidates and parties in the European election involves turning our backs on Europe in a way that is contrary to the international standpoint of the Proclamation.

Senator Thomas Byrne was speaking this afternoon in Ashbourne, county Meath, at the annual commemoration of the Battle of Ashbourne, one of the most significant military engagements of the 1916 Rising.

“Euroscepticism tries to play to the understandable feelings of anger and frustration that many people currently feel towards the European Union. Since we joined the Union, Ireland has gained many benefits from membership.  At the same time, it is fair to say that actions of the European Central Bank and the European Commission in the banking crisis imposed an unfair and unacceptable burden on Irish citizens.  However, anger is neither a policy nor a solution to our problems. Nor is pulling out of the European Union a viable policy – as advocated by Deputy Luke Ming Flanagan – or being ambivalent about the Euro currency, like Councillor Matt Carthy and Sinn Féin.

“I have been explaining to voters the disastrous consequences for them of this two-pronged 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.

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.

“It is the privilege of this generation to be able to draw inspiration from the ideals and sacrifices of the men and women of Easter Week 1916. That spirit means turning towards Europe, not turning our backs on it. It means fighting for our rights within the European Union and working together with ‘gallant allies’ for a better Europe and a better Ireland.