EU membership has transformed our country
Published 06/07/2016 | 02:30
Asking the question "What the EU has ever done for us?" is a bit like that famous moment in the Monty Python film The Life of Brian when a group of Judean revolutionaries, led by that brilliant comedian John Cleese (pictured), belligerently asked: "What have the Romans ever done for us".
There then followed a discussion covering the obvious benefits such as the wonderful Roman roads, the viaducts, the improvements in education, law and order and on and on. It was a very funny moment in what was one of the funniest films I have ever seen and it has clear parallels with what the British were asking themselves in recent weeks prior to their voting to leave the EU.
Like the spoof paramilitaries in the film, the British people were clearly not thinking too deeply. Apparently many of them voted to leave as a protest against immigration, without considering that were it not for immigrants, their health service - along with many of their hotels, restaurants, building sites and offices - would have to close down.
They also forgot the requirements of the food industry and the thousands of immigrant agricultural workers who are needed on a seasonal basis.
The same reality applies here in Ireland. Our hard-pressed health service would collapse if all the doctors, nurses and other staff who came from abroad to work here were to leave. Were all our immigrant workers to return to their home countries, our economy would immediately sink in to deep recession.
We need them and they have contributed hugely to our overall national well-being as well as bringing a welcome opening of our society and great cultural diversity. The vast majority of immigrants come here to work, not to sponge on our welfare system as many would have us believe.
We do that bit quite well ourselves without any help from abroad.
It is hard to find any economic activity here that is not now dependent on foreign workers for its success. Walk in to any hotel or café or building site and chat to the workers there if you don't believe me. Look at all the foreign people who keep our meat and food processing factories in business and who help staff our stud farms and racing stables. To say that they are taking jobs from the Irish is nonsense.