Saturday 25 February 2017

Taoiseach warns Dáil motion calling for Irish to vote against Brexit 'could backfire'

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Enda Kenny. Picture: Arthur Carron
Enda Kenny. Picture: Arthur Carron

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned that a Dáil motion calling for Irish people in Britain to vote 'Remain' in the forthcoming referendum could backfire.

Mr Kenny said the Government is actively encouraging Irish citizens with a vote to help avoid a Brexit – but said they must be careful not to intervene any further.

He was responding to a suggestion from Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin that the Taoiseach organise an all-party motion, signed by every TD, “calling on Irish voters and those with Irish connections in the UK and an entitlement to vote and UK citizens living in this jurisdiction to vote to stay in the EU”.

“This is of such vital importance to us,” Mr Howlin said, adding that the debate could explain to Irish voters how Britain staying in the EU is in our “strategic interest”.

However, Mr Kenny said he would need to “reflect” on the proposal.

“It’s a suggestion with merit but I wouldn’t like to think that others might take the view that ‘here’s the Irish parliament telling us what to do’,” the Taoiseach said.

He urged Mr Howlin and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin to go travel to Britain and meet with Irish communities.

But Mr Kenny added that a Dáil motion “could be seen in an adverse way”.

“It might not have the affect that you intend it to have for the right reasons,” he said.

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