Mitchell says Northern Ireland may opt to join Republic if UK leaves EU
The possibility of the UK distancing itself from the EU could result in a majority of people in Northern Ireland voting, at some time in the future, to join the Republic in order to remain part of the EU, Gay Mitchell MEP suggested.
Mr Mitchell, the first of a number of MEPs to be invited to address the House, said that while it was important to digest the detail of what British prime minister David Cameron had said, it was sensible not to rely on the opinions of focus groups.
However, the potential outcome of a British disengagement had to be borne in mind. A British citizen living in Ireland had emailed him saying that he wanted to retain his EU citizenship and passport and had urged that the Irish Government fast-track the procedure for people like him to become Irish nationals.
He hoped that Britain would not leave the EU, and he would like to think that the Irish EU presidency would be helpful in promoting some kind of rethink in this regard.
Crisis in Europe
Sean Barrett (Ind) said Mr Cameron’s speech had helped to illustrate the crisis in Europe. One newspaper had headlined his comments by stating that he could not have an a la carte meal. A legitimate response was whether the alternative was to be force-fed, added Mr Barrett. On the issue of subsidiarity, for example, it had to be asked if there were governmental functions that could be better carried out by nation states.
Acting Fianna Fáil Seanad leader Marc MacSharry called on Minister for the Arts Jimmy Deenihan to explain to the Oireachtas how two people came to be appointed to the board of the Heritage Council even though they were not among the 76 applicants for the appointments. “It’s ironic, perhaps, that one is a former press officer of the Labour Party and the other was a campaign activist for President Higgins.”
Michael Mullins (FG) called on former Oireachtas members enjoying enormous pensions, despite their role in the country’s financial crash, to make a patriotic gesture by forgoing part of their entitlements.