As the vista of Brexit draws closer, Fine Gael Senator and spokesman on European Affairs, Neale Richmond, has called on the Government to deepen Irish engagement in the European Union (EU) post Brexit.
“Ever since the people of the UK made the regrettable decision to vote to leave the EU; we have been clear that Ireland’s future lies at the heart of Europe, a decision vindicated by successive polls showing public support for Ireland staying in the EU regularly scoring above 85% (Eurobarometer and Red C polling in 2018).
“However, in order to truly demonstrate that commitment to Europe, Ireland must deepen its diplomatic footprint both in EU member states and the EU permanent representation.
“At the height of the financial crisis, the then Government made the key decision to keep all Irish embassies in other EU countries open. The benefits of which have clearly been shown in the high levels of solidarity that have been given to Ireland during this difficult Brexit negotiation period.
Plans are afoot to open consulates in Cardiff and Frankfurt, as announced by the Government earlier this year, and Mr Richmond believes this expansion should be built on.
“What is vital now in the post Brexit era is for Ireland to deepen our European engagement and further new alliances addressing key upcoming concerns on issues such as tax harmonisation, migration, CAP & security.
“It is the stated aim of this Government that Ireland’s diplomatic footprint should be doubled by 2025; much of this must be in or existing European embassies as well as looking at new consulates.
“I intend to draft a comprehensive white paper on these issues in the coming weeks to present to the Taoiseach and I am hopeful that it will complement the existing good work already being done in this regard.”