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Ireland, the EU and Brexit

A chara, – Ray Bassett’s claim in the recently published Policy Exchange report (covered in this newspaper on July 3rd) “that Ireland may be better off in the long run exiting the EU”, is at odds with Irish public sentiment.

Mr Bassett makes the declaration that “there has been a strong history of Euroscepticism in Ireland”, citing as evidence that Ireland rejected EU treaty change twice in the 2000s. This is a quite a leap; it is our contention that the Irish electorate’s initial rejection of EU treaty reform, and later acceptance, does not equate to a public appetite for a complete withdrawal from the EU.

Rather, polls have consistently shown that the Irish population overwhelmingly favours remaining in the EU. A recent May 2017 Red C poll commissioned by European Movement Ireland found that 88 per cent of Irish people believe that Ireland should remain in the EU, one year after the UK’s EU referendum. Interestingly, only 16 per cent believe that Ireland should follow the UK out of the EU, a significant drop from 29 per cent in the first of these EM Ireland/Red C polls in 2013. These findings are supported by Eurobarometer polls conducted this year, in which 67 per cent of Irish people disagreed with an Irish withdrawal from the EU and only 25 per cent of the population was in favour of Ireland leaving the EU.

Polls (like referendums) are, to some degree, snapshots in time of a country’s often complex stances on questions of national importance. However, they do suggest that even in the context of Brexit, Irish public opinion remains both high and markedly steadfast in its support for Ireland remaining within a reforming EU.

Suffice to say, most of us in Ireland opposed Brexit. As has been repeatedly said, Brexit is a UK policy, not an Irish or an EU one.

As the author of the report freely admits, EU membership has allowed Ireland to grow “more liberal and confident”.

Why would we want to remove ourselves from the European Union that has helped us to grow “more liberal and confident” because the UK has chosen this path? – Yours, etc,

NOELLE O CONNELL,

Executive Director,

European Movement

Ireland,

Lower Fitzwilliam Street,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – The “negotiating” statement by the British foreign secretary that the EU could “go whistle” is typical of the arrogance from London that the people of this country had to put up with for centuries (“Boris Johnson accuses EU of extortion over Brexit bill”, News, July 12th).

Boris Johnson needs to be reminded that by tearing up the agreement signed with 27 other European democracies and accusing them of “extortion”, the UK negotiators are declaring economic war on the rest of the EU.

That economic war is going to do major damage not alone to the EU but to the UK itself and, most importantly from our point of view, to those of us who live on this island, both North and South.

Boris Johnson’s “negotiating” position, if continued, will lead to a breakdown of negotiations almost immediately.

As we in this country know only too well, the consequences of such London arrogance could be dire, long term and irredeemable. – Yours, etc,

A LEAVY,

Sutton, Dublin 13.