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British exit from EU could cause grave difficulty for the border region – Reilly

10 February, 2015

At today’s Joint Oireachtas Committee on European Union Affairs, Sinn Fein Cavan/Monaghan Senator Kathryn Reilly spoke on the possible implications a British exit from the EU would have on Ireland and the border region in particular.

Senator Reilly said:

“The possibility of a British exit from the EU has been largely ignored in Ireland, but we have to be prepared. Such an exit is a very real prospect, and those who will be most affected are the people in the border areas of Ireland.”

“For this reason the Irish government needs to outline a contingency plan for the possibility of a British exit. We cannot live in the hope that Britain decides to remain within the European Union, we need to prepare for the worst and hope for the best in relation to Britain leaving the EU.”

“The progress in North/South relations over the past two decades has been phenomenal, and one of the benefits of this has been the advancement of the economy in the border areas. An exit from the EU could undo this development.”

 “The withdrawal of Britain from Europe would split the island economy and fracture border communities. Should Britain choose to exit the EU, this could lead to restrictions on island wide trade and island wide movement.”

“This could include tariffs on things like dairy products and clothing. Furthermore, if Britain exited the EU they would be likely to restrict immigration from EU countries, which could mean the reintroduction of border controls in places like Belcoo and Blacklion on the border of my own county with Fermanagh. This would be detrimental to tourism in these areas. The removal of border controls in Ireland has been recognised as a key facilitator in increases in all-Ireland trade and all-island tourism.”

“To date, there has been a paucity of academic work carried out to assess the potential economic implications of this decision for this part of the island specifically. It is of the utmost importance that we are completely informed of the implications of a British exit on Ireland, north and south. Therefore, it is imperative that the Irish government draft a contingency plan for a British exit from the European Union.” 

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