Brexit would mean return of Northern Ireland border, warns Taoiseach Enda Kenny
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned that border controls could be put in place between the Republic and Northern Ireland if the UK was to leave the European Union.
During a trade mission to the Netherlands, Mr Kenny warned of the dangers of a Brexit, but added Britain should continue to be a very strong central member.
"I think they shouldn't leave," he said. "If that were to be contemplated, if Britain were to leave, we would be looking at border controls in Ireland despite the fact that we have a common travel area.
"It would also mean border controls between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
"It would also mean probably that the Scottish people would look for another independence vote," said Mr Kenny, who described David Cameron's decision to allow his Cabinet campaign in favour of a British exit as "pragmatic".
The Fine Gael leader suggested that if the David Cameron didn't allow his top ministers leeway on the issue, it could result in some having to be fired.
It is believed that at least two other senior ministers had made clear to colleagues that they would consider resigning if Mr Cameron attempted to force them to campaign for the UK to remain in the EU.
However, he announced on Tuesday that he would suspend collective responsibility, raising the prospect of up to a dozen members of the Cabinet campaigning for Britain to leave the EU.
The move has been described by some UK politicians as "crazy", but Enda Kenny said it was a sensible move.
"This is an issue that people are going to feel really strongly about and there is flexibility," said Mr Kenny.
During the trade mission yesterday, Mr Kenny took part in a series of engagements involving Bord Bia and Enterprise Ireland, where he discussed the merits of Irish beef and Ireland's agri-food industry with some of Holland's top Michelin star chefs at a lunch attended by members of the Dutch media.
Enterprise Ireland also signed an agreement to develop a Space Business Incubation Centre, which will support 25 start-up companies in space-related technologies over the next five years. There are more than 45 Irish companies working with the European Space Agency (ESA) near the Hague, in the development of highly innovative technologies for the global market in space systems and space-related services and applications.
"For the ESA to be associated with Irish companies is truly fascinating. What I saw were elements of how people are changing the frontiers up ahead. Some of these [projects] are quiet extraordinary," Mr Kenny said.