Voters in North urged to contribute to Europe debate

Minister of State for Europe says British exit from EU would have extremely serious consequences

Northern Ireland’s voice must be heard in this debate, says  Paschal Donohoe

Northern Ireland’s voice must be heard in this debate, says Paschal Donohoe


Minister of State for Europe Paschal Donohoe has called on people in Northern Ireland to make their views known in Britain’s increasingly fractious debate on Europe.

In a speech yesterday in Belfast, Mr Donohoe called on Northern politicians and the wider community to clearly express their considered views on a potential referendum on British EU membership.

This was required in addition to an appraisal of where things stood today, he said.

Force for reconciliation

“Northern Ireland’s voice must be heard in this debate. Common membership of the EU has been a force for reconciliation and a framework for co-operation on this island,” the Minister said.

“Even in the context of the positive state of North-South and east-west relations a British exit from the EU would have extremely serious consequences, irrespective of mitigation strategies.”

Mr Donohoe was speaking at an event to mark the publication of a book on Northern Ireland and the EU by academic Mary C Murphy.

“For our part, we fully respect the need for debate and reflection, but Ireland is concerned by the potential for British disengagement from Europe.

“As I have said, your voice on this vital issue will be necessary and very welcome,” Mr Donohoe told his audience.

Good Friday agreement 

“On the economic side, clearly the implementation of the Good Friday

agreement has been instrumental in fostering the cross-Border economic relationship.

“But it has also been facilitated by the parallel development of the EU single market.

“Removing or even shaking this foundation could be very damaging.

“In case there is any doubt on the question,” Mr Donohoe said, “our unequivocal view in Dublin is that we are a committed and integrated member of the EU – and will remain so.

“We also firmly believe that the European Union is stronger with the UK in it and that the UK is stronger in the EU.”