BRITAIN’S vote to leave the EU has brought fear, shock and uncertainty to the Irish community across Britain.
As people across the country today continue to process the information that they have chosen to go it alone, outside of the European Union, the Irish among them have very real concerns of their own – regarding their status in Britain, their future here and the impact the historic referendum outcome will have on their homeland.
“I’m gutted at the outcome, I love this country and this is a triumph for the worst aspects of the British personality – the small-minded islander mentality that had bubbled under suddenly overflowing,” Irish Post reader Ed O’Rourke said this morning.
The 37-year-old Cork native, who has lived in London since he was 22, added: “I fear for the minorities in this country, I fear for Europe, I fear for us as Irish people, as our situation here is suddenly cast as ‘other’ again after years of what was essentially harmony.”
While Mr O’Rourke went on to add that he was also “afraid for my financial future as a homeowner”, Saoirse O'Suilleabhan claims the Leave vote has prompted her to consider leaving herself – swapping Britain for Ireland.
“I'm worried that Ireland and the UK will now drift apart,” she told us, “and wondering is it time to go home now?”.
For community leader and former banker Andy Rogers, the referendum results bring personal disappointment but also increased threats to business and trade.
“I am disappointed at the outcome, but have to accept that it is the democratic will of the people of the United Kingdom,” he told The Irish Post today.
“However, the markets are going to be volatile for some weeks to come, until there is some clarity on how the UK and EU are going to approach the forthcoming talks. I am also very conscious of the challenges that this decision throws up for the business communities in Ireland, both opportunities and threats.”
He added: “It is a time for cool heads and positive thinking.”
Dermot O’Grady reacted similarly to this morning’s news, claiming: “Whether we like it or not we have to be positive as it is what it is.”
The Irishman, who splits his time between his home in Co. Kerry and his business in London, is now concerned for the relations between the two islands.
“As an Irish person I think the country with the biggest headache this morning is Ireland. Our biggest trade partner has made a momentous decision and now the biggest border in Europe is potentially between the north and south of our fair isle.”
He added: “Apart from every other issue this most possibly is the most significant. It has taken 800 years to get things where they are and 24 hours to throw it all up in the air.”
In Birmingham, the SIFA Fireside charity, who provide for the more vulnerable Irish people living in the city, woke up to the “disappointing” news of the referendum results.
CEO Cath Gilliver told The Irish Post: “We are disappointed by the decision, but will continue to work closely with other Irish organisations within the UK and with the Irish government to protect the interests of Irish communities & in particular of older and vulnerable Irish people here in Birmingham.”
In Leeds, the perception is one of moving backwards.
“I think it's a retrograde step," Chris O’Malley, Director of the Irish Arts Foundation, which champions the music and arts of Ireland from its base in Leeds city centre, told The Irish Post.
“The ramifications of this vote will affect both Ireland and the Irish community here,” he added.
“It could also affect the many Irish people who lived and worked here who retired and moved back to Ireland. If the driver in the vote out campaign was immigration, we would do well to remember our own past.”
Not all members of the community were disappointed with the Leave vote, however.
Matt O’Connor, the second generation Irishman who founded the Fathers4Justice campaign group in London, told The Irish Post today: "The leave vote marks the beginning of a new democratic revolution where people, not politicians, will determine our future."
He added: "It is no coincidence that Brexiteers like Nigel Farage and George Galloway are also supporters of Fathers4Justice and shared parenting."