Thursday 27 October 2016

Kenny aims to contact every Irish exporter over 'Brexit'

Taoiseach: Irish workers in Britain will not be affected by new EU rules

Cormac McQuinn and Philip Ryan

Published 21/02/2016 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tom Burke

Every Irish company that is exporting to Britain will be contacted so they can be told of the importance of helping stop a 'Brexit', Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

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He was speaking after Prime Minister David Cameron set June 23 as the date of the so-called 'Brexit' referendum.

The announcement of a referendum came after two days of marathon talks in Brussels which resulted in a deal designed to encourage the British public to vote to stay in the 28-member club.

Mr Kenny returned home at 3:30am yesterday morning ahead of a day of campaigning in his home county of Mayo.

He was asked if Britain leaving the EU would impact on his job creation plan and promise to continue the economic recovery. He said: "I hope Britain stays in. I hope the electorate in Britain will vote very strongly to stay in.

"I don't have control over it but I will speak to all the Irish connections we have, all the Irish business connections we have.

"We will contact every Irish firm that is exporting to Britain to say how important this is both ways," the Taoiseach added.

"I don't contemplate Britain leaving the European Union, but clearly the ESRI have pointed out in their paper the impact economically and practically on this country were that to happen. And clearly if that were to become a reality, then the complications would be enormous over I would say five to 10 years in terms of the European treaties and all of that involves."

Asked if all his party's plans would go out the window in the event of a Brexit, Mr Kenny replied: "Obviously it would make it more difficult with whatever controls would apply at borders and whatever else.

"We don't want that to happen and I discussed that briefly yesterday with the prime minister before the European Council meeting.

"We've had our discussions at Downing Street. We've had our memorandum of understanding.

"It's a very strong relationship now in so many ways between Ireland and Britain and we want that to continue.

"So between here and June 23, the campaign for Prime Minister Cameron is only beginning and what he got yesterday from the other 27 countries was a facility to go to the British people and say, 'now I've got what I looked for'.

"This is why I'm going to sell this proposition. These are the reasons we should stay as a member of the EU."

Mr Kenny emphasised: "No Irish worker in Britain is affected by the decision that was made yesterday and we will have to see what will happen in that campaign."

Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster has formally announced that the Democratic Unionist Party intends to campaign for a Brexit.

Meanwhile, Paypal's European vice-president Louise Phelan warned against increasing the marginal rate of tax over fears Ireland will not be able to lure highly skilled emigrants home.

Ms Phelan's comments follow commitments by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to increase the marginal tax rate by almost 10 point to 59pc for higher earners.

"Our marginal personal tax rate has been known to be an issue when it comes to attracting people home to work and encouraging new talent into our country.

"Raising it would make us less attractive to highly-skilled workers," she said.

"Our tax system should appropriately reward productivity and innovation in order to attract and retain talent; that's key to growing our economy."

Paypal's main Irish headquarters is in Mr Adams's Louth constituency, where more than 1,400 people are employed.

Sunday Independent

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