Sunday 23 October 2016

Irish Tory politician slates Taoiseach's 'desperate' remain roadshow

Published 14/06/2016 | 02:30

Enda Kenny-
Enda Kenny-

An Irish-born UK Conservative Party councillor has described the Irish government’s push to get out the Irish vote in Britain as “desperate”.

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Taoiseach Enda Kenny and several ministers have been in UK cities engaging with the Irish community ahead of the EU referendum on June 23. The Taoiseach returns this week.

The Government’s message is that Britain should remain as an EU member, amid arguments that a withdrawal could cause severe economic consequences for both countries, and spell a potential return to border controls with Northern Ireland.

But Michelle Donohue-Moncrieff, a pro-Brexit Conservative councillor for Scarborough in Yorkshire, has said successive Irish governments have been too unquestioning of the EU.

“I’m deeply uncomfortable with the Taoiseach running around in a rather desperate way. To most English people who see it, it doesn’t look very good. It looks like we don’t have any confidence in ourselves. It looks like we’re so desperate to get these Irish people to vote to stay,” Ms Donohue-Moncrieff told the Irish Independent.

“My concern about the whole political dialogue in Ireland is that for the best part of 30 years there has been no critical thinking on the European Union, or the EEC as it was then. We’ve never had a proper critical debate. The whole body politic, the civil service, works on the basis that the EU is good no matter what it does.”

Carlow-born Ms Donohue-Moncrieff moved to the UK at 22, after graduating from UCD with a degree in engineering. She has worked with various companies in the UK, including British Steel and Kingspan. She said the area she represents will be voting “overwhelmingly out”, with immigration the big issue.

“Immigration, in voters’ minds, is more important than the economy. It’s palpable, particularly in northern England. It’s the Eastern European migration. Working-class people, particularly traditional Labour voters, in areas like this, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, the real traditional old school Labour voters, are voting to leave. And that’s all to do with immigration.”

And she dismissed the prospect of some form of border being reintroduced between the north and south. “Ireland is not legally obliged to join Schengen, so under a Brexit Ireland’s position would have a special status,” she argued.

“There would have to be an arrangement that would deal with the border.

“It is perfectly possible for the EU to come up with an arrangement for Ireland and Britain, particularly as Ireland and Britain are islands, and the only land border is the land border between the two countries.”

Irish Independent

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