BY BRIAN MOORE
THE British people have spoken and for better or worse, the UK is leaving the EU.
The talk of West Cork since the shock result has been how it will affect the 5,069 British nationals living here.
For example, how will Britain’s exit affect British pension recipients living here in Ireland, or even Irish citizens claiming UK pensions over here?
The fall in sterling continues and while many experts forecast that this situation will stabilise, it has left UK citizens querying what it will mean for those living on fixed incomes.
‘Financially, the likes of us will be affected by the exchange rate on our UK pensions, but that also affects Ireland, as those pensions will be of less value to Ireland,’ Nick Turner (73) who voted ‘Leave’ and has lived in Drimoleague since 2007, told The Southern Star.
‘It’s also fair to say that hundreds of thousands of retired Irish UK workers, now back here, will receive less pensions and this does, in fact, highlight just how much Ireland feeds off the UK,’ Nick continued.
However, there are other benefits that EU citizens, living either here in Ireland or elsewhere in Europe, are entitled to claim. Medical care and other social protection entitlements claimed by UK citizens in EU countries may also be restricted if Brexit goes ahead.
‘Healthwise, we do, of course, currently have an entitlement to medical cards as recipients of pensions from another EU state, but Ireland (and Spain etc) will have to decide whether or not to preserve it. There may, of course, be retaliation from the UK. But the revenue we’ve brought to this country in the nine years we’ve been here has, I feel, more than justified it,’ Nick Turner said.
These decisions, whether to continue or rescind the medical cards, the access to free medical care in an emergency, or indeed the dole and other social welfare entitlements currently available to British citizens living in Ireland, will have to be discussed when the British Government enacts Article 50, which will set in motion the UK’s exit.
Gill Baggott (65) who has lived on Sheep’s Head since 2009, is not overly concerned at the Brexit referendum results. ‘I voted to stay and was shocked at the result but I would be very surprised if there is any change to the current situation concerning medical cards and social welfare entitlements. Long before the EU, there was a special agreement between Britain and Ireland and I don’t see why this would change,’ Gill said.
As for the exchange rate and the fall in the value of British pensions, Gill says: ‘We have to accept the volatility of the financial markets and the drop in the exchange rate. These drops and climbs have happened before and will happen again. We just have to accept it,’ she said.
And while it is true that a ‘special arrangement’ existed between Ireland and the UK before both countries signed up to the EU, any return to this agreement after Brexit would now have to be approved by the other members of the EU, and this could be a sticking point.