Thursday 23 February 2017

Next 72 days will be pivotal in deciding if UK remains in EU

Charlie Flanagan

We’re now 72 days away from the day on which the UK electorate, which includes a sizeable Irish community, gives its verdict. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
We’re now 72 days away from the day on which the UK electorate, which includes a sizeable Irish community, gives its verdict. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The outcome of the forthcoming UK referendum on European Union (EU) membership is in the hands of UK voters - but the island of Ireland would be significantly impacted in myriad ways should our nearest neighbour and largest trading partner opt to end its EU membership.

On a visit to London last week, it was made clear to me by both government and opposition politicians that the large and influential Irish community across the UK has a great deal to contribute to the debate that is now under way.

The scale of Irish-British links is extraordinary. Up to one in four people in Britain has some Irish heritage. More than 600,000 people born on the island of Ireland live in Britain, with many more second and third-generation Irish too. Close to 60,000 company directors in the UK are Irish-born.

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