The survival of small businesses across Ireland hangs in the balance because of the Brexit issue, an industry body has warned.
The Small Firms Association said thousands of jobs could be put at risk if the UK votes to leave the EU in three months time.
Linda Barry, SFA assistant director said: “Small firms do not have the same degree of mobility, flexibility and diversification that may help larger businesses to navigate the risks posed by a UK exit from the EU.
“Small businesses may be dependent on a UK supplier, investor or market, which means that their very survival hangs in the balance.”
Trade between the UK and Ireland directly supports 400,000 jobs – half of which are in Ireland, the SFA said.
Almost half, 43%, of Ireland’s exports are also destined for the UK, it added.
Throwing her weight behind the campaign for the UK to remain in the EU, Ms Barry said: “The UK is a strong voice for free trade, reduction in red tape and other pro-enterprise policies at EU level. For all of these reasons, it is in the interests of the Irish small business community that the UK remains in a reformed EU.
“Uncertainty is never good in business and the Brexit issue introduces layers of uncertainty for companies in Ireland. The immediate question relates to the outcome of the referendum on June 23, but the prospect of a vote to leave carries with it the longer-term uncertainty over the arrangements that would be made between the EU and a UK outside of it.”