Mixed views on Brexit from British at Cork’s English Market

‘Older generation favour leaving, young people want to stay with flexibility of travel’

Fishmonger Pat O'Connell debated the merits of an ugly monkfish with Queen Elizabeth II when she stopped at his stall in the English Market five years ago.

In recent weeks, conversations with British tourists have been dominated by Thursday's European Union referendum. Most, O'Connell has found, are concerned.

“Chatting to them, the majority of what we are hearing seem to be in favour of staying, albeit with one or two changes,” said Flynn, whose photograph with the Queen filled many newspapers in 2011.

“I think they are finding the democracy end of the European Union not working very well,” he added.


"That was the main gist of their concerns, really: that's it not as democratic as it should be. But, on the other side, they are very worried about the unknown if Britain does opt for a Brexit.

Couple for Leave

Not all the tourists agree, however. English couple Kevin and Clare Flynn came to Cork to watch Chic, the 1970s US disco band, in a concert on Tuesday night at the Marquee on Leeside.

The Flynns, from Woking in Surrey, had prepared well for their Irish trip, casting a postal vote before they travelled.

"We both voted to Leave," said Kevin, whose parents emigrated to Britain from Limerick and Meath. "I think we just need our own country back. We shouldn't be dictated by Germans, or anyone else. We should be independent."

An exit from the European Union could trigger stock market volatility, Clare Flynn agreed, but such matters ease over time.

Want flexibility

“I think it will be very tight,” she said. “The older generation favour leaving, whereas young people will want to stay with flexibility of travel.”

The so-far undecideds will decide matters in the end, she believes. “I would be disappointed if we don’t vote to leave, but at the end of the day you have to go with the majority. Life goes on.”

Much surer in his view was Toby Simmonds, a British citizen who has lived near Inchigeela, near Macroom for 25 years and has run The Real Olive stall in the English Market for 15 years.

Describing the referendum as "totally wrong", Simmonds told The Irish Times: "It's all connected to the English sense of being a great colonial power that rules the world."

The Daily Mail has fuelled fears about Poles "ruining the country", Simmonds said, but Poles, like the ones living in Ireland, "work and are part of the community, end of story".

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times