Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned that the border of the European Union would run from Dundalk to Derry if Britain votes to leave the EU on June 23.
In a speech at the University of Ulster yesterday, Mr Kenny claimed a “Brexit” would create instability and uncertainty and the likely return of border checkpoints.
“The re-establishment of customs checks on the border, or indeed of any customs arrangements, would be a regrettable and backward step for North-South trade and co-operation” said Mr Kenny.
Mr Kenny said it was not credible to suggest nothing would change at the Irish border if the UK left the EU.
“The re-establishment of customs checks on the border, or indeed of any customs arrangements, would be a regrettable and backward step for North-South trade and cooperation,” he said.
Mr Kenny said there was “no doubt” leaving the EU would involve changes to the trading rules between Britain and Ireland. He said such a change would deliver “bad news” for the Northern Ireland economy.
“We are standing here today less than 50 miles from the United Kingdom’s only land border,” he told an audience at the University of Ulster. “Can anyone credibly suggest that nothing would change if that became the western border of the European Union?
“We remember when it was a hard border. We remember the delays, the cost and the division.
Stressing the Irish government’s strong support for a Remain vote, Mr Kenny said, as the peace process came of age, people should take account of the “risks and challenges” that lay ahead.
Mr Kenny added: “Later this month the people of Belfast, of Northern Ireland, of the UK as a whole, are being asked to make a momentous decision.
“That decision is as important for the future of this island as when we all voted for the Good Friday Agreement (in 1998).”
Meanwhile, no assurances have been given that European money allocated to Northern Ireland would be reimbursed in the event of a Brexit, the region’s deputy first minister has said.
Martin McGuinness said he did not believe the Conservative Government would prioritise the North if the UK voted to leave the EU.
The veteran Sinn Féin representative argued a Brexit would be bad for the local economy and could impact negatively on relations with the Republic of Ireland.
He said the Tories had been “ruthless” when dealing with the block grant and were wedded to austerity.
“I have absolutely no faith that where money is lost this will be returned to us by a British Government which is totally and absolutely committed to austerity,” he said.
Sinn Féin, the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP and Alliance Party have all pledged support for the remain campaign.
However, the Democratic Unioninsts, the largest grouping at Stormont, are backing the leave campaign.
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