A business leader promoting Anglo-Irish trade has warned of an uncertain future if Britain votes to exit the EU.
John McGrane, director general of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, said while the Irish Government would do its best to establish close ties between the neighbours it would be constrained by the need for consensus with colleagues in Europe.
“It is not in the gift of the Republic of Ireland as a member of the EU to give that agreement. That can only be given by the EU as a whole so it probably would be authorised with conditions.
“It seems unlikely that the EU would enable a special deal for the Republic of Ireland with Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK that was at odds with the rest.”
He gave evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee of MPs – which is investigating the impact of a Brexit on Northern Ireland – at Westminster.
Mr McGrane said there were no facts to say that the Northern Ireland economy would benefit from being out of the EU.
“There is no doubt it will continue to do business and leverage its own competencies.
“Many of those are enhanced today by virtue of access, European Union membership.”
Trade in goods and services between Britain and Ireland was worth 65 billion euro last year and 400,000 jobs relied on it.
However proponents of an exit maintain that deals could still be struck in the event of an out vote.