IRISH Ambassador Dan Mulhall has confirmed Ireland’s intention to stay in the European Union regardless of whether Britain chooses to cancel its membership.
“Ireland has committed itself to EU membership as a matter of vital national interest,” the Co. Waterford native claimed in a speech made at University College London’s European Institute last night.
“We want the EU to function more effectively in delivering benefits to the people of Europe which means that we have something in common with the UK,” he added, “however Ireland approaches this issue as a country that has no intention of ever taking the exit door.
“Instead, we will argue for a more effective Union from within, and without any threat that we will contemplate departure.”
The talk, entitled Why Ireland would like the UK to remain in the EU, saw the Ambassador address the ongoing debate about Britain’s EU future from an Irish perspective.
“You may ask why an Irish Ambassador is addressing a key British debate about this country’s future?” he suggested, before explaining: "The reason is that this British debate also involves other European countries because it concerns the future of a Union to which we all belong.
“On a personal level, imagine if you were an influential member of a club and were thinking of leaving it after being a member for 40 years. You would hardly expect the Club’s other members to be indifferent to your intentions or tight-lipped about them,” he added.
Ambassador Mulhall sent on to explain that while Ireland had good reason to “stay silent” on the Scottish referendum, not least that it was “a domestic Scottish and UK matter”, there were no such arguments for the EU debate.
Instead, he claimed: “I want to argue that the UK’s European debate has a special relevance and importance for Ireland, as we are likely to be affected more directly and significantly than any other EU country should this debate end, as we earnestly hope it will not, in a UK decision to part ways with the European Union.”
After explaining how Ireland’s EU membership had transformed the country, by “enabling us to diversify our economy” and “by making Ireland more attractive for foreign investors”, he informed those gathered that “as a consequence” the nation now possessed a “competitive, export-oriented manufacturing and services sector, which could scarcely have evolved in the absence of EU membership”.
Before closing his speech, the Ambassador reminded the audience that Ireland and the UK joined what is now the EU on the same day in 1973 and confirmed that the Irish government would continue in their attempts to persuade their closest neighbour to remain a member.
“As a neighbour and friend, with which we now enjoy the closest of partnerships, we will do what we can to encourage continued UK membership of the EU,” he said.
“We know, of course, that the UK’s future engagement in Europe is something that will be decided by the Government and people of this country, but s a concerned neighbour, and a fellow member of the EU, it would be remiss of us to stay silent on this issue of major importance to the UK, to Ireland and to the whole of Europe.”