The annual Ibec CEO Conference took place at the RDS last Thursday, with this year's theme being 'Bold Ambition'. However, the topic on everyone's lips was the impending referendum in the UK on the subject of leaving the European Union.
It was clear that discussions about a possible Brexit were going to be a key aspect of the day's events from the off, as copies of an Ibec information booklet entitled 'The Impact Of A Possible Brexit On Irish Business' was left at every table in the room.
The booklet discussed in depth just how important the UK is to Irish businesses and listed six key areas in which a Brexit would affect Ireland.
It said that a Brexit will affect trade between Ireland and the UK, meaning a higher compliance burden for firms.; movement for Irish people to the UK could be restricted; Sterling will significantly weaken against the Euro; competition in the UK market will increase; it will become more costly to trade across countries, especially with Northern Ireland, and the integrated energy market means Ireland would be exposed to UK changes.
After the subject was briefly touched upon by Ibec CEO Danny McCoy and renowned economist David McWilliams in the opening exchanges, it was when Tony Blair's former spin doctor Alastair Campbell took to the stage that the Brexit discussion became the real talking point.
Campbell backed the information in the Ibec booklet and called upon the Irish people to be influencers in the weeks remaining before the referendum. Campbell referenced the 660,000 Irish-born people in the UK with a right to vote and the 1.2 million others who have Irish blood in them.
"It is with their help that this will be defeated, and it is up to you to make that phonecall and convince somebody, not just for their sake, but for yours as well," he said.
“The real battle is going to be fought in millions of British homes and workplaces as people turn to friends and family and people we trust and respect, work with and for. And that includes people who do not have a vote, like you. Please do it. My country needs you.”
© 2016 - Checkout Magazine by Niall Swan