'Brexit would be disaster for Irish in UK' - O'Connell
Published 15/05/2016 | 02:30
RTE's former London Editor has warned the UK leaving the EU could cause serious problems for thousands of Irish people who emigrate to Britain each year.
Brian O'Connell, who left the State broadcaster in 2012, is spearheading one of the main cross-channel pressure groups trying to prevent 'Brexit' because of the knock-on effect it will have on Ireland and the Irish.
Irish4Europe is a coming-together of various Irish groupings in Britain, and is fighting a fierce campaign to try to keep Britain in the EU club.
Citizens from Ireland living in the UK are allowed to vote in June's referendum.
In a 2011 census, over 400,000 in the UK identified themselves as Irish-born.
Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Mr O'Connell, one of the founding members of Irish4Europe and a UK director for the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce, warned 'Brexit' could have serious consequences for trade between the two countries.
"Britain is Ireland's biggest trading partner - and Ireland in turn is Britain's fifth most important trading partner.
"If the borders are tightened, what will we do in terms of the common travel area and passport-free zone between both countries?
"I've lived in London a long time and I can get in my car and drive to Dublin on the ferry. Nobody asks me for a passport or any similar documentation.
"But if you've got to secure your borders against migrants from EU countries, how will the British cope with a free-travel area of this kind?
"Will the common travel arrangement be ended? And if that is done, what impact will it have on trade? None of this is part of what is termed Project Fear - but these are the sort of questions the Leave side can't answer."