London Irish fear for EU's future if UK votes to leave
Published 23/06/2016 | 02:30
They gathered in the heart of the British capital to cheer on the Boys in Green. But Irish fans who chose to socialise in central London last night were acutely aware of the significance of the 'Brexit' referendum.
The Irish in London have been inundated with calls and texts from family and friends at home who are deeply concerned about the prospect of an EU without Britain come tomorrow. The idea of the return of a hard border with Northern Ireland is, without doubt, the number-one worry.
Derry-born Aaron Murray (29) said that at present the only thing separating his family home from neighbouring Donegal was a hedgerow.
"This is really important to my identity. I have never known a hard border. But I feel people are trying to drag us back to violence," he told the Irish Independent.
In Covent Garden, the 'Irish 4 Europe' volunteer organisation was carrying out its final canvass before polling day.
The group was yesterday given a last-minute boost with the endorsements of both U2 and Hollywood actor Liam Neeson, who are calling for a Remain vote today. However, campaign manager Claire Tighe believes the result is still too close to call.
Like many campaigners, she has encountered the angry 'Leave' voters who are basing their votes on the issue of immigration.
"The tone of the immigration stuff is certainly worrying," she said. "At this point, we are not thinking about the result. We just want to keep up the courage and the momentum."
A short distance away, a group of young professionals from Waterford had gathered inside 'Philomena's Irish bar'.
They had met to watch the Ireland-Italy match but the issue of the referendum was just as hot a topic.
"We are worried a Brexit could be the start of the collapse of the EU. From an Irish perspective, that's worrying," said 34-year-old builder Rory Kavanagh.
Mark Feehan also said he was voting Remain and was approaching the issue from an Irish perspective.
"It might be better for Ireland, but not necessarily the UK, if people vote to remain on Thursday," he said.