Skip to main content

Taoiseach addresses Confederation of British Industry Annual Conference and met with Prime Minister David Cameron

Taoiseach addresses Confederation of British Industry Annual Conference

 Taoiseach Enda Kenny met with Prime Minister David Cameron (photo courtesy of Malcolm McNally)

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is in London today to address the Confederation of British Industry Annual Conference. Afterwards, the Taoiseach visited 10 Downing Street where he met with the British Prime Minister David Cameron. The two leaders discussed developments in Northern Ireland, the UK/EU negotiations and economic issues of interest to both Governments.

At the CBI Conference, on the topic "Securing our global future in a changing world", the Taoiseach said:

"I am here at a time when the Irish economy is recovering. We are restoring the public finances, rebuilding our broken banking system and creating the environment to grow jobs. We are now budgeting for growth. Ireland was the fastest-growing economy in the EU last year. The European Commission forecasts the same again this year.

Our recovery plan involved decisions that have been very painful for people in our country. But the people of Ireland displayed great patience and resilience during the crisis. It is because of their sacrifices and hard work that our country is now recovering. We continue to focus on avoiding the mistakes of the past. There can be no return to boom and bust."

The Taoiseach spoke about ties between Ireland and the UK.

"Ireland’s recovery is good news for Britain: Ireland and the UK share a mutually beneficial trading partnership.We buy more British food and non-alcoholic drinks than any other country – over £3 billion pounds annually. This level of trade translates into good jobs. It is estimated that over 200,000 UK jobs are predicated on exports to Ireland. We also invest in each other more than you might think.
There are almost 100 UK companies based in Ireland that are backed by our Inward Investment Agency, the IDA. These employ almost 7,000 people.

The UK is the 3rd largest investor in Ireland, after the USA and Germany. Our people move more easily and frequently across national boundaries. Our respective labour markets have always been closely integrated."

The Taoiseach addressed the possibility of a British exit from the EU:

"Given the breadth and depth of these overlapping interests, it is perhaps not surprising that Ireland regards the prospect of the UK leaving the EU as a major strategic risk. In truth, the full risks are unknown as much would depend on the detail of what a “Brexit” process would actually look like.

However, it is an outcome that the Irish Government does not wish to see materialise at all.

Ireland’s commitment to the European Union is unqualified. Clearly, the choice of whether to remain in the European Union, or to leave it, is for the British people alone to make...

I still find an enduring power in the idea that by working together we are stronger.

And the bottom line is still this: for over sixty years, the EU has contributed hugely to the healing of a broken and divided continent.
But I have also seen how the Union could do better. I know that it has been subjected to unprecedented challenges in recent times. I share the view that we need to look critically at what we do at EU level and how we do it, to ensure the best deal for all our citizens."

The Taoiseach expressed concern about the effect a possible British exit from the EU would have on Northern Ireland:

"The research also found that Northern Ireland could be the most adversely affected region of the UK in the event of a Brexit. This is extremely worrying on a number of levels. The EU has been an important, perhaps underestimated, enabler of peace in Northern Ireland.

The EU provided almost €2.4 billion euro in funding over the period 2007 to 2013 to help Northern Ireland overcome the challenges of a peripheral region that has emerged from conflict. Common membership of the EU project is part of the glue holding that transition process together.

We have come through a difficult few months politically in Northern Ireland. But I remain optimistic.

I believe that Northern Ireland can leave the past behind and become a dynamic economy that will benefit not only the UK but the island of Ireland."

The Taoiseach concluded by remarking on the improvement of relations between Ireland the UK:

"Relations on these islands have never been better. They have transformed over recent years almost beyond recognition.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II’s State visit was warmly received in Ireland as a historically significant moment of reconciliation. Our President, Michael D. Higgins’ State visit to Great Britain last year underscored the maturity of relations between our countries. The Prime Minister and I remain committed to deepening relations between our two Governments.

As we acknowledge our shared past, so too must we look to a shared future, the precise shape of which, at this point in time, is somewhat unclear.

What is clear is that we are closer than ever and working better together for all the people of these islands. I believe that we need to continue that work – our two countries together - in the European Union."

Read the full speech here