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Pain of staying in EU without Britain 'will push Republic Ireland to exit'

By Colm Kelpie

Remaining in the EU without the UK will be so "painful" that it will ultimately induce Ireland to leave, an academic will tell the Irish Senate's Brexit hearings today.

Anthony Coughlan, Associate Professor Emeritus of social policy at Trinity College, Dublin, has argued that remaining in the bloc after Brexit would strengthen partition.

Mr Coughlan, who has been a long-time Eurosceptic campaigner, has gone so far as to say that the Republic should pull out of the EU at or around the same time as the UK.

His opinion is in the minority. Public support for Ireland remaining in the EU remains strong at 77%, according to a Eurobarometer poll released late last year.

That compared to an EU average of 50%.

Support for remaining in the EU is also very strong among business and the main political parties in the Republic.

Foreign direct investment agency IDA sells the Republic on the basis that it is at "the heart of Europe, and that, as a "committed" member of the European Union, it provides international companies with guaranteed access to the European market.

Mr Coughlan, however, will tell the Seanad Brexit committee today that it is "hard to point to any significant advantage for the Republic of Ieland remaining in the EU when the United Kingdom leaves".

"Because of this, it is probable that at the end of the day Brexit will be accompanied by 'Irexit', as the adverse consequences of us seeking to stay in the EU become evident to the Irish public and to major Irish interest groups over the coming two years.

"Even if we do remain members of the EU without the UK for a period post-Brexit, we arelikely to find that experience so painful that it will induce us to leave."

Mr Coughlan said the course of action most in the public's interest is to use the east-west and north-south strands of the Good Friday Agreement to come up with a joint approach with the UK aimed at both states exiting together.

He claimed Ireland remaining without the UK would strengthen partition and make reunification more difficult, arguing it would add several new dimensions to the existing border, including Customs.

Other witnesses before the Seanad's Brexit committee today include representatives from SSE Airtricity, European Movement Ireland, and University College Cork.

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