Government are 'unashamed supporters' of Britain staying in the EU

Thursday 18 February 2016 23.14
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Ministers Noonan and Howlin said   they want Britain to remain within the EU
Ministers Noonan and Howlin said they want Britain to remain within the EU
Enda Kenny is travelling to Brussels to attend the opening of a two-day summit of EU leaders
Enda Kenny is travelling to Brussels to attend the opening of a two-day summit of EU leaders

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan has said the Government are unashamed supporters of Britain remaining in the EU.

He said stability was needed for the Irish economy.  

Mr Noonan said there is agreement across member states but some individual interests were in play.

He expected principal elements to be agreed during the day but the remainder would continue into the night. 

Mr Noonan indicated that Government documents on the fallout from a possible Brexit could not quite be described as a "contingency plan" but there was an awareness of the risk.

On possible Irish limits on in-work benefits, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin indicated it would mostly relate to child benefit as other supports were insurance based.

Both were speaking at a press briefing after Cabinet ended this morning. No questions were allowed on the election. 

Ministers Noonan and Howlin post-Cabinet briefing

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is attending the opening of a two-day summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

On his way into this morning's Cabinet meeting, he said Ireland will repeat its level of support for Britain staying in the EU, saying it was "in our interest - and in Britain's".

RTÉ News has learned that the Government will seek to negotiate an exemption for Irish citizens from any Brexit terms which would affect the eligibility of EU nationals working in Britain from certain welfare payments. 

Today's crucial EU meeting will decide on Britain's demands for a new deal from the union.

Tánaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton has said Ireland is seeking for the payment of child benefit to children abroad to be considered as part of Britain's EU Brexit negotiations. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Burton said that since she had become Minister for Social Protection she had halved these payments abroad due to anti-fraud measures.

British Prime Minister David Cameron's campaign for a renegotiation of Britain's terms of membership of the EU comes to a head today.

With the Government parties stressing the need for political stability in the face of external risks, they will be keen to talk up the dangers of a so-called Brexit afterwards.

Sinn Féin's Pearse Doherty has warned that a decision by the people of Britain to leave the EU would have "major consequences" for this country.

He said a vote to leave would be "a major risk to the economy here" and would have "implications for north-south relations" as well as having "unforeseen consequences for free trade and travel".

Mr Doherty said the party would support and work towards the retention of Britain in the EU.

Meanwhile, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly has attacked Sinn Féin's position on the USC, saying it will have "no impact whatsoever" on the average industrial wage.

He said the party promised to abolish USC previously and "voters needed to examine that position". 

Farrell earmarks 35,000 units for social housing

Alan Farrell of Fine Gael has said that the party's housing strategy has identified 35,000 housing units for social and affordable housing, to be built between now and 2020, at a cost of €3.7bn. 

Mr Farrell, who is a candidate in Dublin Fingal, told RTÉ's News At One that he is aware of five sites in his constituency which are either under construction or ready for construction. 

He said: "Fine Gael's plans are contingent on continued economic growth and the jobs market", which would provide the state with additional tax resources. 

In connection with privately built houses, he said Fine Gael "would not rely on the private market to deliver", saying that would be unsustainable.