Taoiseach Enda Kenny suspended his Brexit campaigning after the atrocity which led to the death of British Labour MP Jo Cox.
The Taoiseach had travelled to the UK yesterday to encourage Irish communities in Liverpool and Manchester to vote to remain in the European Union.
However, news of the shooting and stabbing filtered out as Mr Kenny was speaking at St Michael’s Irish Centre in Liverpool.
“I have heard about the shooting and the stabbing of Jo Cox in West Yorkshire. This is an appalling crime on a public representative going about her duty, a mother of two young children.” he said.
“I hope and pray that she will be ok,” he said, shortly before the fatal injuries claimed her life.
Before the death was announced, Mr Kenny had described the attack as an atrocity and outrageous behaviour.
The Taoiseach said he would not be commenting further on Brexit out of respect.
However, he fulfilled a prearrangement engagement at a business evening in Manchester, last night, where he did not talk about Brexit.
With both the ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ camps cancelling their campaigns immediately after the attack, the Taoiseach had said: “Out of respect for those decisions, I will not make any further reference to the referendum to be held next week during the course of my remaining duties here.”
Earlier in the day, he had told the Irish community in Liverpool to think of Ireland and the implications a Brexit would have on trade, borders and other relations between both countries.
“This is a really important vote because if you are living in Wigan or St Helen’s, or Liverpool and you are Irish when you go to vote next week — if your vote is to stay to remain a member of the European Union, you are making things a little bit easier for our own country.
“The freedom of movement between Ireland and Britain has been very important for business, for trade, for friendships, for family and hospitality.”
He said €1.2bn in trade was recorded between Ireland and Britain each week, with 200,000 jobs in Ireland dependent on the UK business.
The Taoiseach said most of the consequences of Brexit were “unknown” but he had warned it would mean “increased costs and loss of competitiveness”.
“If that were to happen movement over and back across the Irish sea would be affected one way or the other.”
Earlier in the day, Labour leader Brendan Howlin, also in Liverpool in support of the Remain campaign, questioned whether the Irish Government would be prepared in the event of a Brexit.
Mr Howlin said he was not sure if robust enough preparation had been carried out by Ireland in the event of a no vote next week.
“I think most people have been working under the assumption that Britain will vote to stay, I still hope passionately that that will be the outcome and I believe it will be the outcome, but we certainly have to prepare for other eventualities and I am not sure we have done robust preparation.
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