Wednesday 21 March 2018

Taoiseach 'unashamedly' calls on Irish community in Britain to vote 'Remain'

Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tony Gavin
Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Photo: Tony Gavin
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

The Taoiseach has again 'unashamedly' called on the Irish community living in Britain to vote Remain in the forthcoming EU referendum.

Enda Kenny is in Glasgow for the 26th Summit meeting of the British-Irish Council.

A minute’s silence was observed for the tragic shooting dead of Yorkshire MP, Jo Cox (41) who was very much on the minds of attendees, who included Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, as well as Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones and leaders of the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey.

At a press conference held after the private Summit meeting, Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell called for a ‘push back on the vilification of the political class,’ with some of the representatives saying that they had been subject to abuse and threats.

With the suspension of both campaigns as a mark of respect to the slain MP, little was said on the subject of a possible Brexit and Enda Kenny spoke more mutedly than he would have done as he called for Irish people living in Britain to vote to stay in the EU.

“It’s not for me as the leader of the government to lecture anybody but because of the relations we have…

"I feel it important to speak to the Irish community who are entitled to vote in the referendum and to say, unashamedly, we feel very strongly they should vote to stay in the European Union,” he said.

He acknowledged that the result, like every referendum, will depend on the turn out.

There are challenges ahead, Mr Kenny said, however in the situation as it stands, we know what those challenges are.

“Strong leadership is about dealing with those issues,” he said.

Voting to leave will lead to serious uncertainty, he added.

And in a veiled reminder to attendees of the Summit, he warned that in the event of a vote to Leave, there will be no one to speak for Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland at European Council meetings which will lead to a “massive change” in the situation.

However speaking afterwards, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers – who supports a Leave campaign – denied that the border would have to put back in place in the event of the UK leaving the EU.

“I believe the border will stay as it is today,” she said, adding that there had been “endless discussion” about the issue.

Asked if she thought a Leave result might destabilise Northern Ireland, she said “I don’t believe for a moment” that the people would choose to go back to violence.

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