Businessman and founder of The London Irish Construction Network Frank O’Hare on why many Irish here will be voting to stay in the EU
By Frank O’Hare
It’s over forty years since I came to Britain from Cootehill, County Cavan and I’ve been in the construction and property business here for most of my life.
I’ve raised my family in Britain and now my youngest son works with me in the business I founded. If Britain leaves the European Union it will be his generation, which will be really badly affected.
Britain and Ireland joined what was then known as the Common Market on the same day in 1973. It was a huge step for both countries and it happened just a few months after I arrived in Britain. Looking back, emigration was an equally massive step for me.
After years running my own business here, I believe it makes no economic sense for the country that I’ve come to regard as my home to be leaving the European single market of 500 million consumers.
That’s why it’s so important for the Irish community in Britain to have their say in the referendum on June 23rd.
I feel so strongly about it that I helped set up Irish4Europe. We are a civic non-party political group of Irish people in Britain who are campaigning to keep the UK in the European Union.
Irish people living here in Britain have a vote but you have to be on the electoral register (sometimes called the electoral roll). If you’re not on it you’ll need to register to vote by the June 7th deadline. You can do it online at www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
You will need your National Insurance number and it’ll only take about five minutes. Alternatively your local council will be able to tell you how you can register by post.
The threat of Britain leaving the EU is as much an Irish concern as a British one. We cannot stand by and watch Ireland’s best friend and closest ally exit the EU after so much progress together.
To do so would threaten the economic relationship between Britain and Ireland which has helped transform the lives of so many Irish people living in Britain.
The more I talk to my friends and colleagues who are in the same line of work, the more I’ve come to believe that Britain leaving the EU would have a disastrous effect on the construction industry.
That’s why I’ve been urging my colleagues in The London Irish Construction Network to vote “Remain” on polling day.
If Britain were to vote to leave the European Union, it would be seen as closing its borders to the rest of the world. That could affect the ease of travel most of us currently enjoy between Ireland and Britain.
In my lifetime I have seen migration from Ireland as being good for Britain and the British economy and anything that threatens that freedom of movement between the two countries will also threaten our livelihoods here and those of our children.
Many of us came to Britain years ago in search of a job and a better living. Over the years I have seen the Irish community make an extraordinary contribution to life in this country and I want the next generation to benefit from the prosperity we’ve all worked so hard for.
That’s why I hope you will join me in voting Remain on June 23rd.
Frank O’Hare is a founding member of The London Irish Construction Network