Minister Flanagan launches new IIEA book on Irish perspectives on “Brexit”25 March 2015
Minister Flanagan launches new IIEA book on Irish perspectives on “Brexit”
“Keeping the EU intact, with the UK at the centre of it, is worth fighting tooth and nail for”
The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, this evening (Wednesday) launched the IIEA’s new publication, “Britain and Europe: The Endgame” - a series of essays setting out Irish perspectives on “Brexit”. The launch was attended by TDs, Senators and guests including the British Ambassador, HE Dominick Chilcott.
In his address, Minister Flanagan stated:
“A core message that leaps from this book’s pages is that it’s in our country’s fundamental interests that the UK remains a member of the European Union. There is, I think, absolutely no doubt about that. British membership of the Union is hugely important for this country – for our economy, for the strength of the British-Irish relationship, for peace and stability in Northern Ireland and for our long-term strategic positioning within the EU.
“But these convictions carry even more weight and more credibility when we best understand the issues at play for our island and our people. And that is precisely why this book will prove to be so valuable. It neatly – even forensically – sets out the issues, scenarios and implications that could arise for all of us if the UK were to leave the EU. That is why I have no doubt that this text will be of great assistance to all of us in the time ahead.”
Minister Flanagan also commended the Oireachtas Committee on European Affairs for its series of hearings over two months, which were addressed by some of the book’s contributors.
Referring to the debate in Britain regarding EU membership, the Minister noted the importance of the forthcoming General Election on 7 May and commented:
“I accept there are serious concerns felt by many in the UK about their membership of the Union. And yes, there are some loud calls for the UK to up sticks altogether and withdraw. But let’s not forget either that there are a lot of people in the UK speaking a lot of sense about the EU and their country’s place in it. Their voices should not be drowned out. They want to work to achieve sensible reform of the EU to help win the support of their public for continued British membership – a process that Ireland, and many other EU member States, can support.
“It’s also positive to see recent polls showing renewed popular support for British membership of the Union. British business leaders have also – it seems to me – found their voice over the last few weeks in extolling the advantages.
“So the Brexit ship has certainly not sailed. Far from it. That belief is why the Government is focussed on working hard to keep the UK anchored in the Union – though of course we have to bear all scenarios in mind.”
“We should never forget just how remarkably successful the European Union project has been. That is why keeping the EU intact, with the UK at the centre of it, is really worth fighting tooth and nail for. It’s not just for our economy or for our strategic positioning within the Union – big and important reasons though they are – but because it will help to sustain what has been Europe’s greatest ever success story.”