Speaking today (Wednesday) during the Seanad debate on the future of EU – UK relations, Dublin Rathdown Senator, Neale Richmond, has stated that the Brexit campaign can be the start of a better Europe.
“With less than 48 hours to go in the campaign, many will have made up their mind and many more will have already voted through postal ballot. At this stage, I believe we must start to address the many issues and challenges that this campaign has presented and we need to prepare the EU for change. Regardless of the result of this Referendum, it is clear that the EU needs to change.
“Growing up in 1980’s Ireland, the European project represented something big, but something tangible. Our copy books were adorned with maps of the then EEC countries and it was impossible to drive down any new road in Ireland without seeing huge signage plastered with the European flag.
“For older generations, my parents and grandparents, the European project represented something a lot simpler, bringing peace to our continent for the longest continual period in history. No more ration books, no more air raids, no more fear of men and women being once more asked to ‘do their duty’ and go to war.
“Unfortunately the contemporary EU has drifted. It has become the very definition of meddling bureaucracy, of micro intervention. An entity obsessed with regulating and intervening in issues that are removed from so many people’s daily lives.
“Too often national governments, including our own, are to blame for this. Governments are too quick to blame Brussels for all the bad news and to jump on the bandwagon, claiming responsibility themselves for any good news coming from Europe.
“In order to counter this, the EU, to quote John Major, needs to get Back to Basics! We need to see more focus on the positive, obvious initiatives.
“Following on from a period of austerity, the EU needs to be front and centre of a new, modern infrastructural programme; let’s clearly show the ordinary people of Europe how the EU works for them. We need to champion not admonish the four defining freedoms of the EU. The EU needs to improve existing initiatives and scale back the bureaucracy that stops good programmes such as Erasmus Plus from flourishing, preventing many European citizens from reaping the benefits provided due to something daft like a 52 page application form.
“Tomorrow’s vote in the UK represents the greatest threat to stability in Europe, our Europe, since the end of the Second World War. Regardless of the result, the UK’s relationship within or without the EU will be changed forever. It is in that context that Ireland has the greatest challenge to face and perhaps the most important role to play as the Brexit campaign can be the start of a better Europe.”