Gilmore hits out at UKIP chief's 'small-minded' EU stance
TANAISTE Eamon Gilmore has launched a scathing attack on UKIP boss Nigel Farage, who predicted a rise in Euro-scepticism in Ireland in the wake of the economic crisis.
The UK Independence Party boss predicted not only a rise in anti-EU sentiment within Ireland but also that Ireland will have Euro-sceptics stand in next May's European Parliament elections.
The Labour Party leader warned that Europe has not only been good for Ireland but that Brussels stood by Ireland during the economic and financial crisis.
The Tanaiste warned that any rise in anti-European sentiment would have very serious consequences not only for Ireland but for countries like the UK.
"I think what we need to see in Ireland is a growth in jobs, not a growth in Euro-scepticism," Mr Gilmore said.
"That is what we are working towards. I think growth in that kind of negative politics, that kind of small-minded anti-Europeanism – it does not get us anywhere."
Mr Gilmore said voters needed to focus on the positives offered by the EU such as economic solidarity, communal development, enhanced education and a focus on tackling unemployment.
"I certainly hope that we don't follow that particular drum – that drum will lead the UK into a cul-de-sac and will lead Europe into a cul-de-sac if we were to follow it," he warned.
But Mr Farage argued that Ireland had taken "unnecessary pain" during the bailout simply to benefit the EU.
He said Ireland's sacrifices were effectively to save a currency (euro) that the country should never have signed up to, given our export profile.
"Most of your foreign trade is denominated in sterling and US dollars. So why join the euro?" he asked.
"Looking ahead in 10, 20 or 30 years – is eurozone membership going to be an advantage for your country," he challenged.
Mr Farage said that Ireland, like many other EU member states, needed a proper debate about where the Union was heading and whether citizens wanted to find themselves locked into "a United States of Europe".