Should Ireland seriously consider Irexit?

A chara, – Ray Kinsella's call for an "Irexit" was surprising, confusing, and deeply disappointing ("Why Ireland should seriously consider Irexit", Opinion & Analysis, August 30th).

While Brexiteers have lately been drenched by a cold shower of reality, “Irexiteers” frustratingly cling to the same toxic fantasy that has driven the UK to its greatest foreign policy disaster in decades.

Europe is our home. We have benefited and grown greatly as a nation from our EU membership, and remain members because it is overwhelmingly in our interests.

The Irish people have repeatedly recognised at the ballot box that, whether we are in the EU or not, many decisions which are important to our country are decided in Brussels.


As such, we’re far better off as equal members, with our vote, our veto, and our seat at the table of the world’s most important trade bloc – all of which the UK has gambled away.

Mr Kinsella disappointingly blames the EU for issues not of its making, such as the existence of the Irish Border, the US-led bombings of Syria and Libya, and even the consequences of Brexit.

While claiming that Brexit renders Ireland “marginalised, peripheral and dependant”, Mr Kinsella also bafflingly seems to believe that an Irexit would reverse this. How does losing our vote and our rights in Europe strengthen us? How does cutting ourselves off from the single market we helped to build make us more prosperous or secure?

Does Mr Kinsella not recognise that leaving the EU actually results in a very real loss of control, as the UK is currently finding out?

Finally, Mr Kinsella asks “who will uphold and advocate Ireland’s national interests?” The answer is simple. Ireland will. To do so, we need an equal seat at the table, and a vote to cast.

A stupid, pointless Irexit would deny us both. – Is mise,



Dublin 4.

A chara, – Ray Kinsella may try to propose reasons for Ireland to leave the European Union but he failed to explain how Ireland would be better off outside of the EU.

The reason why Ireland had to join the EEC in the first place was because Ireland’s main market, the UK, was also joining and therefore it was essential for Ireland to follow the UK. The UK joined the EEC because it had lost its empire after the second World War and its economy was underperforming. The British were not interested in the EEC for the political reasons that France, Germany and the Benelux countries were, and the UK only wanted to improve its own economy.

The advantage for Ireland was that Ireland joined a large common market and was no longer restricted to the underperforming UK market. This advantage still holds true today. It would be economic suicide for Ireland to leave the world’s largest market to be dependent on the underperforming UK market. Most of the international companies based in Ireland would leave. How does Mr Kinsella propose to replace them?

Mr Kinsella also failed to mention the good that the EU did for Ireland. The EU mandated the Irish government to pay women equally to men; it forces Ireland to improve its environmental behaviour; and it has made Irish one of 24 official languages of the EU.

There are many other positive results of EU membership that could be listed.

What Ireland should be planning with excitement and imagination, rather than dread, is for a new departure in its international relations. Ireland should aim to join the Schengen zone, improve the education curriculum so that Irish students learn at least four languages, and assist Irish companies to export to new markets in the EU and elsewhere.

Mr Kinsella portrays a bleak future for Ireland unless we are aligned with the UK. I think that it will be a much better future aligned with the EU. – Is mise,




Sir, – How refreshing to read that at least one of our leading intellectuals has not got his head in the sand. The professor’s incisive and worrying perception of a possible, if not likely, future for Ireland in the EU is chillingly laid out in his article. It deserves serious consideration. It could all happen.

This country’s ability to form its future within the EU will always be hampered by its size relative to that of the big economies.

They will always get their way in the end – and to hell with everyone else. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.

Sir, – Ray Kinsellsa advocates leaving the EU, even though he believes that “membership of the single market and customs union benefits Ireland”.

He expresses no view on whether the diversification and growth of Irish trade that has occurred since 1973 would be reversed outside the EU. Nor does he tell us which currency a non-EU Ireland would use. The euro? Sterling?

Post-Brexit, he tells us “we cannot look to Europe to advocate Ireland’s national interest”. Does he seriously believe that the United Kingdom, on which an Ireland outside the EU would be so dependent, would be a better advocate of those interests? – Yours, etc,



Dublin 5.

Sir, – Paradoxically, it seems the slow-motion train wreck that is Brexit has inspired a small minority of Irish society who seem willfully unaware that leaving Europe is not “taking back control” but surrendering control.

Whether we are in or out of the EU, our economic links to Europe mean that we will have to play by the EU’s rules.

The difference is that while we are members, we have a real say in how those rules are made, and a veto over many critical matters.

The growing expectation for the Brexit talks is that the UK will effectively end up in the single market for many years, but will no longer have a say in how the market is run.

No institution is perfect, but it is so clearly in our benefit to remain full voting members of the EU, with all the associated rights, that to claim otherwise is simply to ignore reality. – Yours, etc,




Sir, – Ray Kinsella’s thought-provoking article on a possible Irexit certainly got some people agitated in the comments section. Many took the time to remind us of our impoverished state as a God-bothering backwater before the EU millions helped spark our infrastructural and social revival in the dreary 1970s.

There is, indeed, something 1970s-like in the unquestioningly servile groupthink of Irish citizens towards our new EU masters.

This undemocratic, unwieldy, reform-proof behemoth has replaced the church for many as an infallible deity we could not possibly live without.

Others deride the fact that we would be beholden to the UK outside the EU when we are, in truth, beholden to Germany while in it.

Still, it's refreshing to see even one single article questioning the inflexibly held article of faith that EU membership has become in the paper of record, if only for the outrage it caused among the banking elites and Eurocrats who haunt The Irish Times website.

The vitriol directed at anyone who gently flies this kite merely confirms just how far the religion of EU membership is now enshrined among a docile congregation. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 3.

Sir, – In advocating Irexit, Ray Kinsella writes that “The exploitation of our maritime resources amounts to a significant ‘contribution’ to other EU members”. The scale of the “contribution” is colossal – 40 per cent of edible fish taken in the EU originate in Irish waters.

Between 1975 and 2010, non-Irish boats took €184 billion worth of fish out of Irish waters under the Common Fisheries Policy, compared with €17 billion worth by Irish boats.

The net EU contribution to Ireland in cash between 1973 and 2013 was €41 billion.

Ireland’s “contribution” to the EU is at least €143 billion. – Yours, etc,


Gaoth Dobhair,

Co Dhún na nGall.

Sir, – Of all the half-baked claims in Ray Kinsella’s article on Irexit, the most surprising is that leaving the EU would “mitigate Ireland’s vulnerability to EU pressures on its business model”. That is quite the suggestion, given that Ireland’s national business model is entirely based on our EU membership. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 18.