A lively EU referendum discussion has taken place on Tyneside today featuring a prominent Irish politician.
Paschal Donohoe, minister for public expenditure and reform within the Irish Government, engaged with North East business communities ahead of the poll on June 23.
He held a question and answer session at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle hosted by businessman Maurice Duffy, CEO of Tynemouth-based Blackswan, to discuss key policy issues of interest and in particular to set out the Irish Government’s perspective on the upcoming EU referendum.
Mr Donohoe said: “The Irish Government believes that membership of the European Union by the United Kingdom is of huge importance to the future of our country and to the future of your own country.
“We respect your right to make a decision and to decide how you want to vote.
“We have great respect, but as a neighbour that has become a friend, we feel we have a point of view that we would like you to be aware of.
“Countries working together through an organisation like the European Union can achieve so much more together than alone.
“The transformation and chance that we have seen in Ireland and in the UK has been enabled by the creation of the European Union.”
He added: “This is your decision to make, I only ask that when you are making that decision that consideration is given to the views of your neighbour.”
He answered questions from the audience on issues of border control, the Northern Ireland peace process and how the Irish Government is engaging with Irish people in the UK on this issue.
Mr Duffy said: “What we have had is a lot of facts and figures. Most of them have been made up or exaggerated, but this event was designed to get some facts from people who only have our best interests at heart.
“We were very privileged to have Paschal with us to share his views on the EU referendum and what Brexit would mean for relations between Ireland and the UK.”