Tuesday 17 October 2017

'Ireland must quit EU with Britain to avoid Brexit pain'

Anthony Coughlan believes Brexit pain will make Ireland leave
Anthony Coughlan believes Brexit pain will make Ireland leave
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Remaining in the EU without the UK will be so "painful" that it will ultimately induce Ireland to leave, an academic will tell the Seanad's Brexit hearings today.

Anthony Coughlan, Associate Professor Emeritus of social policy at Trinity, has argued remaining in the bloc after Brexit would also strengthen partition.

Mr Coughlan, who has been a long-time Eurosceptic campaigner, went so far as to say that Ireland should pull out of the EU at or around the same time as the UK.

His opinion is in the minority. Public support for Ireland remaining in the EU remains strong at 77pc, according to a Eurobarometer poll released late last year. That compared to an EU average of 50pc.

Support is also very strong among business and the main political parties.

The IDA sells Ireland on the basis that it is at "the heart of Europe", and that, as a "committed" member of the European Union, it provides international companies with guaranteed access to the European market.

Mr Coughlan, however, will tell the Seanad Brexit Committee today that it is "hard to point to any significant advantage for the Republic of remaining in the EU when the UK leaves".

"Because of this, it is probable that at the end of the day Brexit will be accompanied by Irexit, as the adverse consequences of us seeking to stay in the EU become evident to the Irish public and to major Irish interest groups over the coming two years.

"Even if we do remain members of the EU without the UK for a period post-Brexit, we are likely to find that experience so painful that it will induce us to leave."

Mr Coughlan said the course of action most in the public's interest is to use the east-west and north-south strands of the Good Friday Agreement to come up with a joint approach with the UK aimed at both states exiting together.

He claimed Ireland remaining without the UK would strengthen partition and make reunification more difficult, arguing it would add several new dimensions to the existing border, including customs.

Other witnesses before the Seanad's Brexit committee today include representatives from SSE Airtricity, European Movement Ireland, and University College Cork.

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