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Thursday 2 October 2014

Taoiseach: UK's EU membership 'critically important' to future of union

Niall O'Connor in London

Published 10/04/2014 | 20:28

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The strain of his position is beginning to show for Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Collins
Enda Kenny has insisted that membership places countries on "higher ground" and that prosperity for both Ireland and British people depends on being at the heart of the EU. Photo: Collins

BRITAIN'S EU membership is "critically important" to ensure the future of the union, the Taoiseach has said.

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Enda Kenny has insisted that membership places countries on "higher ground" and that prosperity for both Ireland and British people depends on being at the heart of the EU.

Addressing an event in London last night, Mr Kenny said the Irish electorate opted to pass the Fiscal Treaty referendum during the "middle of the greatest economic catastrophe that ever befell our country".

Referring to concerns expressed by British politicians - including Prime Minister David Cameron, about the problem of red tape, Mr Kenny said these are matters that can be dealt with at European Council level.

"That's why I think it's important to be able to say publicly that's its fundamentally critical for the future of the European Union that Britain be a strong member of that," he added.

Mr Kenny was speaking at an event hosted by the Irish International Business network at the prestigious Bloomsbury Hotel in London city centre.

He reiterated his statement this week that he hopes to take part in a joint Trade Mission with Mr Cameron - a prospect that would have been "unimaginable a few years ago".

The Taoiseach began his address by remembering Queen Elizabeth's State arrival at Aras an Uachtarain at the beginning of her State visit to Ireland in 2011.

He said that he felt a "tingling on the back of his neck" upon watching Her Majesty arrive at Aras An Uachtarain to inspect a guard of honour.

Mr Kenny told an audience of business people that he felt this same sensation during President Michael D Higgins's State visit this week.

"When I turned the corner the other day outside Windsor Castle and saw the tricolour with equal status as the Union Jack outside the residence of the Queen of England, that same feeling returned," he said.

"What this has done is not just close the circle of history but bring about equality, respect, recognition, understanding and all of these things that are so important," he added.

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