First Minister strengthens European bonds in Dublin visit

The First Minister’s recent visit to Dublin highlighted Scotland’s growing political, cultural and business links with our European partners.

Nicola Sturgeon reflected on Scotland and Ireland’s long shared history, and called for existing bonds to be ‘strengthened not strained’ as the UK prepares for Brexit.

The visit came the day after European Elections, where the SNP won a historic victory and Scotland sent a clear, resounding message – Scotland’s for Europe.

The First Minister met with the Irish Taoiseach and hosted an investment round table with the Irish business organisation IBEC. Ireland is Scotland’s closest international trading partner with exports worth £1.5 billion in 2017.

She said, “Whatever happens with Brexit, we will not allow it to damage our relationship with our closest partners and friends, and we will continue to encourage trade, inward investment and international cultural collaboration.”

For people in Scotland, Ireland stands as an example of the importance of small, independent nations representing their own interests in Europe. As the prospect of a No Deal Brexit looms closer, Scotland must be given a choice on taking its own seat at the top table.

During the visit to Dublin, the First Minister said an independence referendum should take place in the latter half of 2020.

She said: “There will be another Scottish independence referendum and I will make a prediction today that Scotland will vote for independence and we will become an independent country just like Ireland, and the strong relationship between our two countries now will become even stronger soon.

“I want to see Scotland having the choice of independence within this term of the Scottish Parliament, which ends in May 2021, so towards the latter half of next year would be when I think is the right time for that choice.

“Scotland has been treated with contempt by Westminster and people are contrasting that with Ireland, that has been shown real solidarity and support from the European Union.”