Emotional and moral decisions for older generation in Brexit
by Sally Mulready
Like that generation of older Irish emigrants my decision to vote to remain within the EU is both a moral and emotional one. I know my vote to ‘Remain’ on 23 June will be supportive of Ireland as well as Britain, the country in which I live, and work, and support my family, writes Sally Mulready.
I have heard politicians and other experts on the European Union speculating that when it comes to voting to remain in the EU or to leave, that the large community of older Irish emigrants living in all parts of Britain would be ‘more likely’ to vote to leave. It’s a view based on the assumption that older Irish people in Britain are by and large anti the European Union.
I don’t believe this to be true. I believe that when presented with the wholly negative impact Britain’s withdrawal would have on Ireland economically, culturally and socially, that community of older Irish Emigrants will support what is in Ireland’s best interests. I believe they will vote to remain.
Members of this ‘older’ generation hold an indisputable and historic record of intense loyalty and commitment to Ireland throughout the decades and they will not turn their backs on Ireland now. Their faithful devotion to the country of their birth has manifested itself over many decades.
We can recall the economic and social importance of the emigrants’ remittances made by that generation, so generously given. They did so with a strong sense of it being their moral duty.
There is every good reason to acknowledge too, that the generation of Irish people who came here in the 1940s, 1950s and the 1960s, made valuable annual trips home to further boost the economy of their towns and villages back home. It is also this generation that kept alive our culture in music, in song, in sport and in literature. Ireland’s well-being remains always close to our hearts.
I am confident from many decades of work and engagement with the older Irish community in Britain, that they will come out to vote and that they will want to support and protect Ireland.
By now also they will know that there is a consensus that leaving the European Union would harm the British economy and it will also harm Ireland, not least because of the strong economic ties between the two countries.
It will be clear to them by now that Britain’s departure from the European Union would be felt immediately in Northern Ireland and could put in jeopardy the Good Friday Agreement.
Moreover, it could put at risk the precious yet delicate peace that is still holding in Northern Ireland. Who could possibly see the restoration of active manned borders as anything other then a retrograde step?
For those that have never accepted the peace process it could be seen as provocative and undermine the current stability that exists between the two countries on the governance of Northern Ireland.
Like that generation of older Irish emigrants my decision to vote to remain within the EU is both a moral and emotional one. I know my vote to ‘Remain’ will be supportive of Ireland as well as Britain, the country in which I live, and work, and support my family.
I appreciate all the opportunities I had as an Irish emigrant in Britain. Why would I not want the same opportunities for today’s migrant people?
I am motivated to vote to remain because of my belief in international solidarity. I know I will be voting to support the movement of people, who want as I did, to make a better life for themselves. Like all of us, today’s migrant people want to contribute, they want to work, and they want to be good Europeans.
When I left Ireland in 1966, Ireland was still a poor country. There were few opportunities for employment and we were forced to go. Thanks to the European Union, Ireland today is an important Member of the EU, able to effectively assert its own influence in Europe, out of the shadow of a former imperial power.
Today’s partnership between Britain and Ireland is a mature intelligent relationship that the citizens of both countries continue to benefit from.
As older Irish citizens entitled to vote in the European Referendum, I believe we will approach this important vote open minded, mature and confident, able to welcome – rather than fear – what lies beyond our own horizon.
Our vote to remain in Europe will be an historic gesture of support, understanding and solidarity with the whole concept of a European Union. We can show we are willing to make the lives of all European people better through common purpose, common endeavour, and in the spirit of progress, humanity and solidarity.
These will be the thoughts of many older Irish people going to the Polling Station on 23 June, I am certain of it.