The shock decision by the British people to leave the European Union is likely to cost the Irish Government as much as €3.2bn, the Irish Examiner can reveal.
Financial markets across the globe plunged yesterday in the wake of the result, which led to the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron, who advocated for Britain to remain in the EU.
Britain voted to leave by a margin of 52% to 48%.
Here, business and political leaders were united in their disappointment and expressed concern at what the victory for the Leave campaign will mean for Ireland.
In the wake of the result’s confirmation, Taoiseach Enda Kenny convened an emergency Cabinet meeting and the Dáil will convene on Monday to debate the implications of the referendum.
The Government published a series of contingency plans to deal with the Brexit result in a bid to calm the crisis.
At his press conference, Mr Kenny said Ireland will take some “breathing space” in order to consider the result.
Ministers and government figures confirmed the potential cost of Brexit is about 2% of Ireland’s GDP, which would equate to €3.2bn.
Taxpayers were also hit by the fallout from the UK’s referendum decision as more than €260m was wiped off the value of the State’s stake in Irish banks.
Shares in Bank of Ireland and Permanent TSB took a hammering on the markets, slumping to high double-digit falls.
Bank of Ireland shares finished down almost 21%, while shares in PTSB fell by more than 19.5%.
Finance Minister Michael Noonan moved to allay fears, but conceded “there are several downsides” to the result for Ireland.
He insisted the Central Bank is playing a “central role” to ensure there is sufficient liquidity in the system.
“None of the high street banks or the Central Bank in the late afternoon expressed any concern whatsoever,” he said.
He also said European wishes to reinforce the external borders of the EU, which is now the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland, would present difficulties for the Government.
“Our border 60km north of Dublin with the UK out would be seen as an external border of the EU and I think that is going to present a particular difficulty for us,” he said.
Opposition parties here are now at odds over whether there should be a border poll in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said Mr Cameron was “reckless and irresponsible” to hold a Brexit referendum.
He said he does not believe there will be a second Brexit referendum and the UK will now remain outside the EU for “a very long time”.
However, he ruled out a border poll which Sinn Féin suggested after Northern Ireland voted to remain within the EU.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary-Lou McDonald said a vote on Irish unity is now required.
In Brussels, EU Commission president Jean Claude Juncker called on Britain to give effect to the result as soon as possible.
“We now expect the United Kingdom to give effect to this decision of the British people as soon as possible, however painful that process may be. Any delay would unnecessarily prolong uncertainty,” he said.
US vice president Joe Biden, speaking in Dublin, said Ireland will still remain a “cornerstone” of US international policy.
Dr Justin Sinnott, an expert on English nationalism, said the old traditional Labour towns across Britain turned their backs on staying in Europe, saying this is a massive victory for Nigel Farage’s Ukip party.
“Towns and cities like Sunderland, which have been staunchly Labour voted overwhelmingly to leave. The old abandoned working class who voted to leave were what swung this,” he told the Irish Examiner.
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