Lively Brexit Debate Encourages UK Students to Vote

Posted on: 25 May 2016

With just under a month to go before polling, the Trinity Long Room Hub’s most recent ‘Behind the Headlines’ discussion centred on Brexit. A full house showed up at the Arts Block’s Thomas Davis Theatre to hear speakers explore the political, cultural and social implications for Ireland (North and South) and Scotland if the UK decides to leave the EU.

The UK Ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott outlined the three main complaints of the Brexiteers: immigration, democratic accountability, net budgetary contribution. The Ambassador was also quizzed by some British students in the audience who were concerned about their status within the EU should the UK leave. Before concluding, Mr Chilcott pointed out that Ireland had “skin in the game” and we should encourage all our UK friends to make sure to turn out to vote on June 23.

Professor Eunan O’Halpin (Director, Trinity Centre for Contemporary Irish History) talked about the UK’s diminution in significance for the US, should they decide to leave, and also highlighted that Ulster has been left out of the debate so far.

Staying on the subject of the North, Dr Etain Tannam (Lecturer in International Peace Studies, School of Religions, Peace Studies and Theology) talked the close co-operation that currently exists between North and South and wondered if the uncertainty of resources going forward might be a factor in de-stabilising peace.

Professor Gerald Dawe’s (Director of MPhil in Creative Writing, School of English) contribution showed how the language surrounding the referendum has recently taken on a toxic and racist element; what should be a lively and important democratic debate has been characterised by a lot of bluff and bluster from the ‘leave’ campaign.


The Trinity Long Room Hub is Trinity’s research institute for the Arts and Humanities and the ‘Behind the Headlines’ discussion series offers background analyses to current issues by experts drawing on the long-term perspectives of Arts and Humanities research. It aims to provide a forum that deepens understanding and thus creates space for informed and respectful public discourse.

Previous topics have included a public discussion on same-sex relationships with special guest Colm Toibin, a discussion on religion and freedom in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, terrorism, and the refugee crisis.

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