Friday 30 September 2016

Taoiseach suspends campaigning after 'appalling' crime

Niall O'Connor in Manchester

Published 17/06/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday suspended his campaign to encourage the estimated 60,000 Irish people living in the UK to vote in the referendum following the news of Cox’s death. Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny yesterday suspended his campaign to encourage the estimated 60,000 Irish people living in the UK to vote in the referendum following the news of Cox’s death. Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Taoiseach Enda Kenny expressed his deep shock at the "appalling" murder of Jo Cox in broad daylight.

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The Fine Gael leader yesterday suspended his campaign to encourage the estimated 60,000 Irish people living in the UK to vote in the referendum following the news of Cox's death.

"I think it's an appalling crime that a public representative going about her public duty could be shot down in the street and loses her life and has her value to the community and to her family taken away," Mr Kenny said, expressing his sympathies with the victim's husband Brendan and her family.

The Fine Gael leader made the remarks at a event hosted by the Greater Manchester chamber of commerce last night.

Mr Kenny had been scheduled to address over 100 business people about the prospect of a 'Brexit' - but announced his decision not to do so in light of the MP's murder in West Yorkshire.

Last night, President Michael D Higgins said he was "shocked, appalled and outraged at the attack".

"That she has died in that service makes a dreadful comment on our times. Her loss must not be in vain."

News of Ms Cox's murder broke while Mr Kenny was addressing a group of mostly elderly voters at St Michael's Irish Centre in Liverpool.

Read more: 'We must all unite to fight against the hatred that killed her' -  Husband of murdered MP Jo Cox

This morning, Mr Kenny will also avoid making any comment on next week's referendum.

He is due to travel to Glasgow later for the British Irish Council (BIC).

During his speech yesterday, Mr Kenny said Europe will be forced down a road that "has no lights" if Britain votes to leave the EU on June 23.

He said while the consequences of a 'Brexit' are unknown, the EU will never be the same again if Britain votes to leave. "It's like if you are going home from your friend's house at night after playing cards or talking or whatever, and one-way home is lit up, you follow the street lamps to get to your own home, you know where the road is," Mr Kenny said.

"The other is a roundabout way that has no lights at all on it and you are not sure where that leads to.

"So if you vote to stay, at least we know where the road ahead is and while there might be potholes on the road, while there might be hills or obstacles, at least we know where they are.

"So when you go to vote, you have to think of your children and your families, what opportunity are you going to give them.

"If the British electorate decide to leave, the day after things are going to be different."

Speaking without a script, the Fine Gael leader pointed out that €1.2bn worth of trade is done each week between the two countries. He said Ireland "lost thousands to the Atlantic", emigrating on ships from Liverpool to New York and Canada in the 1840s - and Irish Navy ships were now saving the lives of thousands of refugees from the waters of the Mediterranean.

And he said membership of the EU had helped transform Ireland over the last half a century, and despite the financial crash, the nation's economy was now growing again.

Speaking earlier, Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin described the prospect of a hard border being formed with Northern Ireland as "unthinkable". Mr Howlin, who was joined by Labour MP Conor McGinn, cast doubt over whether the Government is adequately prepared for a possible 'Brexit'.

He said trade with the UK would be thrown into "turmoil" if a 'Brexit' takes place.

Irish Independent

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