herald

Thursday 16 August 2018

Costello warns of dangers to Ireland if Scots go it alone

THE Government has been urged to break its silence on next week's referendum in Scotland, with one TD warning there are dangers for Ireland if voters opt for independence.

Former Trade Minister Joe Costello has tabled a parliamentary question asking Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan to outline the implications of the Scottish vote for Ireland.

Scots will decide next Thursday if they want to remain as part of the United Kingdom, with the latest opinion poll showing the slimmest of majorities leaning towards opting out of the union.

The result of the vote will coincide with the beginning of the new Dail term, and Mr Costello is calling for the Government to have "our thinking done" on the fallout of the referendum.

Mr Costello wants a memo to be drafted for the Cabinet and for Mr Flanagan to make a statement on the matter.

"It's not a matter for Ireland to take sides, but economically we are very similar to Scotland so we need to be ready to agree our position," he told the Herald.

"If Scotland votes yes, we have a brand new country on our doorstep, one with a lot in common with us.

"Many areas that we specialise in like tourism and agriculture, Scotland specialises in also," he said.

impact

"If Scotland becomes a sovereign country there could be inherent dangers for us."

Mr Costello expressed concern that an independent Scotland might, like Ireland, adopt a low corporate tax rate.

"We have to assess the impact and consider our relationship with Scotland regardless of the outcome," he said.

A Dail debate on the subject should be tabled for the opening days of the new session, according to the Labour TD.

"The minister needs to open up the matter as quickly as possible - it's important we have our thinking done," he said.

A spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs said the Government's silence on Scotland is due to a desire to remain strictly impartial.

"Our impartiality should not be mistaken for indifference or lack of interest," he said.

"We fully recognise the importance of developments in Scotland and are monitoring developments and their implications in light of our interests and policy objectives," he added.

hnews@herald.ie

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