It was a dark, dark day for Waterford when almost 600 Talk Talk workers learned that they were out of work after a decade in employment, their job prospects bleak as Ireland was plunged into a deep financial crisis in 2011. 

Many of those workers later benefited from a €2.7m re-training programme, funded by the EU’s EGF fund. It's one of a myriad of ways that Ireland benefits from the EU budget, that doesn’t get the same media coverage as more well known funds such as CAP payments to farmers . 

As the current EU budget runs out and a new one begins in 2021, Ireland finds itself a net contributor to the EU, putting in around 1.11% of Gross National Income. 

This is a far cry from 1993, when former then taoiseach Albert Reynolds famously secured IRL£8bn to bring our struggling infrastructure up to the standards of other member states - gaining 13.5% of the Structural Funds although we accounted for just 1% of the EU population at the time. 

Now it is payback time. With the UK leaving the EU, the European Commission says this can only mean cuts to funding and member states will have to contribute more to maintain the annual spend of around €145bn.  

Although negotiations on the size of the next seven-year budget - in excess of €1 trillion - are only beginning, already MEPs in the European Parliament are uneasy about both paying in more, and how the money is being divided. 

"We have no power on the size of the budget, our influence is in how it is spent," Independent MEP Marian Harkin says, as MEPs voted to support a motion critising the size of the budget and proposed cuts to farm subsidies and cohesion funds. 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already indicated that Ireland is prepared to pay in more over the next five years, to help fund the gap created by the UK’s departure. 

However, Irish MEPs have mixed views on this. Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada is a member of a nine-strong negotiating team who cautions against contributing more if it means more funds going towards security and less on agriculture. 

"How can you explain to our farmers, to a country that is neutral, that we are going to be spending money on a Fortress Europe and at the same time cutting the backbone of our economy by the cuts to CAP?" she asks. 

She also cautions against contributing more, when Ireland has a poor record in drawing down funds such as Leader and the Youth Employment Initiative. 

Independent MEP Luke Ming Flanagan says the gap in the budget from the UK’s departure is overstated.

"The cake is just as big, the difference is they have decided to divide it differently," he says. 

He also says he would support increasing our contributions to the EU budget, but not if the funds are being spent on militarisation.  

"I personally would be happy with the idea of putting more money into the European Union but if it means putting more money into a European Union that spends more and more money on tanks and weapons and less money on food, then I don’t think we should put in another red cent."

Unsurprisingly, Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes supported the Taoiseach's pledge to contribute more. 

"The Taoiseach's commitment here before the Parliament in Strasbourg to consider a proposal to pay more into the budget when the UK leaves is positive and helps Ireland to have much greater influence in the direction of the new budget," he said.

He also defended the European Defence Fund, saying that Ireland's defence forces can also benefit from it.  He points out that Ireland has to take into account the real security concerns of other member states. 

"We have to recognise that European citizens care about defence and security, care about growing incidents of terrorism and want Europe to do more in this space," he says. 

Independent MEP Nessa Childers is also against increasing spending on security, but says they will have to find a middle ground which takes into accounts the concerns our fellow member states. 

"I sit beside a Latvian MEP here in parliament. Those countries along the border of the Soviet Union, they are extremely frightened about what is happening there. There has to be a way of dealing with that issue. I don't think in Ireland we are sufficiently aware of that," she said.