Daniel Mulhall, the Irish Ambassador to the UK spoke at the 12th event of the Strand Group on Wednesday 11 May, where he set out the Irish case, as a concerned neighbour, of the impact of Britain leaving the European Union. In a passionate speech Ambassador Mulhall stated that UK and Irish EU membership was a ‘game changer’ for relations between the two countries that had developed into a mutually beneficial triangle between the UK, the EU and Ireland.
The Ambassador also highlighted the economic benefits of EU membership for Ireland stating that ‘When Ireland joined the European Economic Community (now the EU) in 1973, Irish GDP per capita was 60 per cent of the European average. It’s now 115 percent… a significant impact on the Irish economy.’
Describing trade between the UK and Ireland, which last year was worth €65 billion, the Ambassador said that the UK/Ireland bilateral trading relationship, which he described as asymmetrical in the 1960s and 1970s, was now mutually beneficial. In the event of Britain leaving the EU, Ambassador Mulhall said that he could not see the UK continuing to receive the same EU benefits, which will be bad for both UK and Irish trade.
The Ambassador pointed out that Ireland is arguably the country who would be most affected by the UK leaving the EU, and said it ’would be remiss if we didn’t point this out to the UK … We make these interventions as a neighbour who has concerns. If we didn’t, it would be an injustice to our friendship.’