The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, was in London this week for a series of engagements, including meetings with his UK opposite number, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond MP and various leading figures in Irish community and business groups. He has appealed to these leaders to encourage their members to engage in the referendum debate on UK's membership in the EU.
Addressing some of these people at the Irish Embassy in London, the Minister said:
"Irish citizens resident in the UK are eligible to vote in this referendum and I would encourage you to help with efforts to promote debate and participation in this most important decision – through meetings, events, newsletters, word of mouth, whatever works best for you".
Of his meeting with Philip Hammon, Minister Flanagan said:
“My colleague Philip Hammond and I have established a regular pattern of constructive engagement over the past 18 months. I welcome this opportunity to discuss the EU debate in the UK and to reiterate Ireland’s clear position that we want the UK to remain a member of a reformed EU.”
“I fully respect that the question of the UK’s membership is for its electorate to decide. In my series of meetings in London, I will offer Ireland’s unique perspective as a neighbour, as a fellow EU member state, as a €62 billion-a-year trading partner, as a partner in transforming British Irish relations and as a facilitator of successive agreements aimed at securing peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland”.
The Minister’s programme also included contacts with the opposition Labour Party, while his programme concludes this evening with a special event to mark the success of the Irish International Business Network (IIBN) Future Leaders Programme. In his remarks to programme participants, Minister Flanagan will say:
“I have been keen to inform representatives of our community in Britain of the importance the Government attaches to our continued partnership with the UK within the EU.
Those of you in this room are already influential voices or future influential voices in this country. Your talents and achievements mark you out and I have no doubt I am looking around a room of effective debaters and advocates. I am urging you to engage positively in the debate now underway here in the UK”.