A vote by the UK to quit the European Union (EU) would take the country on an “unknown journey”, Ta oiseach Enda Kenny warned.
The Irish politician accepted the EU faces a number of “challenges” but said “good politics and strong leadership” is needed to deal with them rather than simply opting to quit Europe.
He made the comments with less than a week to go until voters across the UK decide the issue in a referendum on June 23.
Mr Kenny, speaking after the British-Irish Council meeting in Glasgow, stressed: “I t’s not for me as the leader of the government in the Republic of Ireland to lecture anybody on something which is the responsibility of the British electorate.”
He added: ” Because of the unique nature of the ties between Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales, the closeness of the nations socially, economically, politically and in so many other areas of business, we feel it is important to speak to the Irish community who are entitled to vote in the referendum and to say to them that we believe very strongly that they should vote to stay as a member of the European Union.”
The politician said he had the ” privilege of sitting round the table at the European Council”, adding that Britain “has always been a strong central voice there”.
He added: ” If the vote were to leave …. attending at the European Council meetings, there would not be any representatives there to speak for Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland.”
While he said “there are challenges” within Europe, he also said that “the way ahead might be to continue to remain a member”.
Mr Kenny cautioned: “To take a different path is an unknown journey that might have unknown consequences.”