Ambassador Dan Mulhall has been meeting with the Irish community across the UK
Ambassador of Ireland to Great Britain, Dan Mulhall, hosted an Irish International Business Network (IIBN) event at the Embassy last night and addressed the upcoming Brexit vote.
Inventors, investors and even the odd journalist were invited to the Irish Embassy in central London last night for an IIBN start-up event. While the focus was very much on the start-ups, the issue of the upcoming Brexit vote arose numerous times. In his opening address, Ambassador Dan Mulhall stated
"EU membership is vital for British / Irish relations. We have committed our future to the EU and it is important for Britain to remain."
With just days to go until the vote, Ambassador Mulhall said he and the Irish government have a clear message for the Irish community living in Britain.
"The opinion polls are quite close at the moment. My focus as Ambassador, and the focus of the government, has been to try to convey to people here in Britain, especially the Irish community in Britain, how important it is from an Irish point of view that Britain should stay within the EU. The EU membership has been good for our relations with the UK, good for our trading connections, good for Northern Ireland and for all of those reasons we have been focusing on the Irish community, which is quite large here."
"I was out today with the Irish community in Bexley, near Greenwich and I met about 100 Irish people who live in that area. Most of them have lived there for many, many years. The thing they kept saying to me was they need more information, they need more knowledge. I think the problem is, for many people in Britain, they've never thought very much about the European Union, they've never really had to deal with it properly. This referendum has forced people to think about the EU and they are doing so against the backdrop of many years of tabloid headlines, poking fun at the European Union."
Last week Taoiseach Enda Kenny told members of the Irish community in Liverpool that the referendum is the most important vote they will cast in 50 years.
Ambassador Mulhall says Irish political representatives, such as An Taoiseach and his ministers have been successful in getting their message across to members of the Irish community in Britain and hope they come out in strong numbers to keep the country within the European Union.
"There are many risks involved. It's impossible to quantify the impact because nobody knows what the impact of Britain leaving the EU would be, it would depend on how the British government wants to move things forward, it would depend on how the EU responds to a vote like that. What we can say with confidence is though, is that there's a lot of risks and the best way to avoid those risks is for Britain to remain in the European Union. That's the point we've been making. This is a risky environment. It's a riskey thing for a country to leave the European Union for the first time ever. Remember, this will be the first time any country has ever left the European Union and that could have consequences which are difficult to measure, but we know they wouldn't be positive."