British EU exit ‘must be considered’

Ireland needs to consider the issue of Britain’s potential exit from the EU and the difficulties it could cause for this country and other member states, a Government minister has warned.

Paschal Donohoe: Consider  impact of British EU exit

European Affairs Minister Paschal Donohoe stressed if Ireland’s nearest neighbour was to leave the union, it would have serious political and economic consequences.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr Donohoe said debate was needed here following a commitment by British prime minister David Cameron to hold a referendum on EU membership.

Britain is Ireland’s most important economic partner in trade, investment and tourism. Some €1bn in trade alone in goods and services flows across the Irish Sea every week.

While any vote on Britain’s EU membership is unlikely until 2017, after the next general election there, senior government figures have already held informal talks with at least one former British prime minister about how to campaign against our nearest neighbour leaving the EU.

Mr Donohoe cautioned against any interference with Britain holding a vote, but warned: “It would be a huge event for us were they to decide that they were going to leave the European Union or change their terms of membership.

“We should have a debate in Ireland about what that all means for us and what would happen. That debate is now starting. I think it is more than likely going to develop next year.

“If an event like that was to take place it would be a cause of significant uncertainty in the European Union itself. That kind of uncertainty could cause difficulties for Ireland and for the ability of the European Union to move forward.”

Senior Government members have begun raising the consequences of a British exit regularly in speeches.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will emphasise that Britain is best served by staying within the union during a key speech, to be delivered in February at the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce event in Belfast.

Mr Donohoe emphasised that among the significant impacts for Irish citizens with a British exit would be the immediate changes on the island. On a political level, it would affect the border arrangements with the North, he said.

“The question is what affect would all of that have for the ability of people to move between the Republic of Ireland and the north of Ireland, the ability of goods and services to do the same,” he said.

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

More in this Section

Rose of Tralee boss delighted Sydney Rose expressed Eighth Amendment opinion

Flight crew praised for handling of mid-air emergency and safe landing at Cork Airport

Campaigners call for end to direct provision after young mother dies at Cork centre

Pat Hickey's family hasn’t visited him in jail


Breaking Stories

Gardai seize 30 kilos of cannabis worth almost €200k in Dublin

Social media giants 'consciously failing' to stop use of sites by terrorists

Review of social media use at Maynooth seminary ordered by Bishops

Major search resumes for man missing off Donegal coast

Lifestyle

Food for thought on cutting costs of back-to-school

The cost of education can often catch people out

Woody Allen is enjoying his golden years

Social media giant faces up to gaming

More From The Irish Examiner