JOBS Minister Richard Bruton has warned the possibility of Britain leaving the EU is a "risk" to the economy in Ireland.
British voters are due to decide in a referendum on EU membership after their next general election.
Mr Bruton said the possibility of Britain's departure was a "double-edged sword" as it would also create opportunities but a lot of Irish companies relied on the British market for exports.
"I think it's a factor out there in the environment that we have to plan for, so we have to look at our Irish base of companies and make sure that they are robust enough to have trading opportunities outside of one market. And that's something we need to do anyhow," he said.
Mr Bruton said 90pc of growth in trade in the future will be outside the EU.
"I'd regard it as another risk factor out there in the environment that we need to game around and think around how do we deal with it?" he said.
Following his own experience as Fine Gael's director of elections in the Seanad vote, Mr Bruton said it was impossible to say how it would turn out. "The other issue as to whether it will happen is a more political issue. But the danger, of course, in any of these things, referenda are notoriously unpredictable, once you commit to them," he said.
Mr Bruton said the Government's preference was clearly for Britain to stay in the EU.
"It depends what the UK does, if it does carve out new independence, what it does with that independence, how does it compete, how do we seek to match that competition?"
The minister's brother, former Taoiseach John Bruton, has become a prominent campaigner in favour of Britain staying in the EU.
The former EU ambassador to the US also said passport controls would have to be set up along the Border in the North if the proposed exit takes place.
Speaking at a conference in Dublin earlier this month, Mr Bruton said he did not believe British people realised the "disastrous effects" an exit would have on the peace process.
"If they were to leave absolutely, without negotiating some form of free movement of people and free movement of goods and agreement with the European Union, we would have to see customs posts reintroduced on the Border and passport controls for the first time ever in Irish history introduced on the Border in Ireland," he said.