Tomorrow is voting day and I wanted to get in touch with you ahead of this important decision, which is of vital significance to Ireland as the UK's nearest neighbour.
I have met and spoken with many of you on the subject of the UK’s EU referendum and of the Irish Government's hope that there will be a Remain vote. Some of you will have met Irish Government Ministers during visits they made to Britain in order to explain the Government's position to the Irish in Britain. This referendum is crucial decision for everyone who lives in Britain, including the substantial Irish community here.
I would like to reiterate some of the points you may have heard and to encourage you, and your networks, to bear these arguments in mind when you participate in the vote tomorrow.
In Ireland, we value the close and constructive relationship we have built with the UK in recent decades. It is our earnest hope that our ties with the UK will continue to strengthen in the years ahead. In the view of the Irish Government, the best way to achieve this is for the UK to remain a member of the European Union.
As someone who has served Ireland as a diplomat since 1980, I look back at how things have changed for the better since that time. When Ireland and the UK joined the EEC in 1973, we were living in a very different world. Those were dark times in Northern Ireland and between Ireland and Britain. Ireland was a much poorer country back then. Too many of our people had to emigrate. As many will remember, visits home were onerous and expensive. Family farms often struggled to survive on account of low prices for our beef and dairy produce.
Membership of the European Union has helped to transform Ireland. It's now a different country. European policies have made it far easier and cheaper to travel to Ireland. Our farmers benefit from European support and EU funding has helped develop our economy, giving our young people today opportunities that were not available to earlier generations.
As EU members, we have learned to work together with our nearest neighbour. Ireland and the UK have very similar views on many of the issues discussed in Brussels. We support each other quite a lot as we have many interests in common.
Without Ireland and the UK being partners in Europe, I doubt if we would have been able to develop the trust-filled relationship that enabled our two governments to work together in bringing peace to Northern Ireland. The EU was a source of support and encouragement for the Peace Process and continues to be so.
The Irish Government believes that a British exit from the EU would be bad for Ireland, for Northern Ireland and for our relations with Britain.
A UK vote to leave would pose a number of risks. It would risk the imposition of customs and identity checks along the border in Ireland and between Ireland and Britain.
We also don’t want to risk damaging the £1 billion of trade that flows each week between Ireland and the UK, which benefits both our countries and our people. This would be put at risk if we had to impose tariffs and would pose a threat to jobs and livelihoods on both sides of the Irish Sea. And we do not want to risk undermining the friendly, neighbourly relationship built between our two countries as partners in Europe.
We want our partnership with the UK to flourish. We believe that this can best be achieved through our two countries continuing to be together as members of the European Union.
We have a unique relationship with the UK based on the presence in this country of so many people who are Irish-born or of Irish descent. We are the only country in Europe with a land border with the UK. We want that border to continue to be an open border so that our people can travel back and forth for business, pleasure or to see family members. We also want Irish people to continue to have the right to live and work in Britain.
For all of these reasons, we hope that the UK will decide to remain in the European Union when you cast your vote tomorrow. I hope that the Irish in Britain, when making up their minds how to vote, will bear in mind the vital importance of this decision for Ireland. Our economy is doing very well at the moment and we want to avoid the economic disruption that a UK exit from the EU would cause, including a likely decline in the value of the pound which would make your visits home to Ireland more expensive for you.
While the decision is of course yours, I trust that the views of the Irish Government will be of interest to you. Thank you for taking the taking the time to read this message.
Irish Ambassador to the UK
- The Ambassador @DanMulhall will be participating in a Twitter Q&A at 3pm today with @theirishpost on the EU referendum. Submit your questions to them!