Carlowman in London explains why the Irish in Britain should vote to remain in the EU in the forthcoming referendum.

The article below was in the Carlow Nationalist on 26 April.  It was written by Tom Nolan, a native of Tullow, who has lived in London for the past 10 years.  It sets out why it is important for Ireland that the UK votes to remain in the EU in the forthcoming referendum.  More information on the referendum can be found on

TOM NOLAN-2Irish vote may be key in Brexit referendum

On June 23rd voters in the UK will be asked if they believe the country should remain in, or leave the European Union. According to recent opinion polls, the leave option, or Brexit as it has become commonly known, is gaining momentum and there is a real possibility that the UK and Northern Ireland may very well leave the EU.

Despite the overwhelming evidence showing a vote to leave would damage the UK economy and reduce its global influence, many British people, encouraged by a press that is largely Eurosceptic, are seriously considering a Brexit. If it was to happen, its impact will be profound and felt far beyond the shores of the UK. And its closest neighbour, Ireland, would suffer the consequences more than most.

Ireland is the only country to share a land border with the UK. Trade between us is estimated to be worth €1.2bn every week. The UK accounts for over 40% of our food and drink exports. Thousands of Irish people have moved there in search of work and many make use of the ease of travel between the two countries to visit home as often as they can throughout the year.

If the UK votes to leave, the impact on Ireland will be dramatic. Considering immigration is featuring so prominently in the debate, a Brexit will almost certainly see border controls introduced between the Republic and Northern Ireland. The right of Irish people to move to the UK to live and work could no longer be taken for granted. Affordable flights to London, Manchester, Edinburgh and every other destination in the UK could become a thing of the past.

Credible independent research by organisations such as the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) estimated that a Brexit could reduce trade flows between Ireland and the UK by at least 20 percent. The ESRI has also ruled out suggestions that Ireland could benefit from more inward investment as a result of a Brexit. Bigger countries such as Germany and France are more likely to attract the foreign direct investment that would by-pass the UK if they vote to leave.

Irish 4 europeA Brexit would also weaken Ireland’s position within the EU, as we are natural allies with the UK on key issues such as taxation and the internal market. Our equal membership of the EU has helped to ensure relations between us have never been better. It is no surprise that the Irish government have been vocal in their hope that the UK votes to remain.

While German, French, Italian and other European nationals who have been living in the UK for many years and are directly affected by the referendum are not allowed to vote, the situation is different for people from Ireland. Any Irish person living in the UK can vote in the referendum as long as they are registered. British people who are living in Ireland are also entitled to register as overseas voters.

The Irish vote is significant. There are an estimated 600,000 Irish people resident in the UK and over a million second generation Irish. No doubt many readers of The Nationalist will have family and friends living there. If you believe it is in Ireland’s interest for the UK to remain a member of the EU it is important to get in contact with people you know who have moved to the UK to ensure they are registered to vote – particularly young Irish people who have emigrated over the last few years – and encourage them to vote remain. In this referendum every vote will count. And as things stand only a small number of votes will decide the outcome.

I have lived and worked in the UK for many years and in common with most other Irish people I have always found it to be a welcoming place to live. That openness to the rest of the world will be put at risk if there is a vote to leave on 23rd June. The result of the referendum is uncertain; a lot will depend on whether groups such as the Irish cast their ballot on the day. Irish people in the UK will be doing their adopted country, and their family and friends back home, a huge favour if they turn out and vote to remain in the EU.

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