The tragic murder of Labour MP Jo Cox brought a bitter and divisive UK referendum campaign to a sudden halt last week. The tone of the debate has now shifted, but the result is still far too close to call. The last few days of campaigning and voter turnout will decide the outcome.
Over recent months, indeed years, Ibec has played a pivotal role in ensuring Irish business concerns are heard and understood, in what has been a dramatic and very divisive campaign. This hasn't been easy, Irish concerns were never going to top the agenda. But the issue is far too important to sit on the sidelines. Over the course of numerous media interviews and conversations with British businesses and politicians there has always been an incredibly strong appetite for the Irish perspective; and we shouldn't underestimate its effect. Only last week in an interview with RTE's Sean O'Rourke Alastair Campbell repeatedly referenced the importance of Ibec's work and the Irish angle. He again highlighted Ibec’s strong presence in the Brexit debate in an interview with Pat Kenny on Newstalk, which you can listen to here: www.ibec.ie/0/Newstalk
Some member companies plan to communicate directly with UK based staff their concerns about the implications of a possible Brexit over the coming days. This needs to be done sensitively; it is not the role of employers to direct staff how to vote. However, the issue has far-reaching implications. Highlighting reasonable concerns about how a UK departure from the EU might affect the company and the business environment is legitimate. Some may opt to simply encourage and facilitate voting on the day. Ibec material is available at www.ibec.ie/brexit and if you would like examples of letters that companies have already sent to staff please email email@example.com.
Whatever way the vote goes, Ibec will be ready on the 24 June to represent your interests in a changed Europe. A vote to Remain offers continuity, but the fallout from the campaign will nevertheless reverberate for years to come. It will impact the EU's political debate, its agenda and how it develops over the coming years.
A vote to Leave is a much greater concern. As Ireland's largest and most influential business group, we will work immediately to ensure your interests are safeguarded in UK exit negotiations. At a national level, through our office in Brussels and our close relations with the EU institutions, and via our close ties with UK businesses and the CBI in London, we will work to minimise disruption and maintain our competitive advantage. I'll keep you fully updated.
In the early hours of Friday we are likely to have some sense of the outcome and at Ibec's Policy+Business briefing (8.00-9.30am on the 24th) we will brief those of you who wish to attend on these developments. Ibec's budget priorities and proposals to address the worsening housing crisis will also be on the agenda that morning. Please follow the link to register your attendance http://www.ibec.ie/0/policy+business
Let me know if you have any further queries or comments.
All the best
Monday, 20 June 2016