THE people of Strabane have been urged to “wake-up” to the reality of Brexit.
MEP Martina Anderson made the call this week after she addressed business leaders, MLAs and locals at the recent Border Communities Against Brexit meeting at the Fir Trees Hotel.
The Sinn Féin delegate to the EU, who admits there is much hard work to do in the face of Britain’s determination to leave the European Union in March 2019, says there is a real possibility the North could remain even if England, Scotland and Wales leave.
“It was a very good meeting,” Ms Anderson said this week.
“It was an opportunity for me to brief those present and give them an update on what is happening regarding Brexit.
“To be honest, the mood in the room at the meeting in Strabane is that we can stop Brexit.
“After all, the EU, the commission and the council has all said they want to uphold the Good Friday Agreement.
“We have the Good Friday Agreement, it’s an international agreement and it’s lodged with the United Nations.”
She added, “There is no appetite to alter the Good Friday Agreement.”
Ms Anderson says that a combination of upholding the agreement as well as preserving the rights of people in the North to hold an Irish Passport, the necessity of not having a hard border or withdrawing from the Customs Union – all of this points to the North remaining within the EU.
She also criticised the Conservative Government’s record on Brexit, since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, decrying recently published papers as “fluff.” The Sinn Féin representative went so far as to criticise British negotiators as “buffoons.”
“I would argue that even Britain should stay within the customs market; it would be a disaster for them to leave,” Ms Anderson said.
“But even if Britain leaves, there should be some consideration on the North remaining. It makes sense.
“It’s only now dawning on some people that the North could have a different agreement with the EU than England, Scotland or Wales.”
She went on to say, “I would say to the people of Strabane, ‘Capture this opportunity… what we have to do is seize the moment.’
“People can petition the players in the EU. They all have email addresses and they can be contacted.
“People can send emails, people can write. People can also take to the streets and make some noise.
“We have a lot of work to do but through a democratic process we can work towards a united Ireland.”
Another of those present at the meeting was SDLP MLA, Daniel McCrossan. He too encouraged people to become involved in opposing Brexit.
“Brexit really is the greatest challenge of this generation that will negatively impact travel, trade and investment especially in the border area,” he said.
“The meeting convened in Strabane represents the collective voice of business, community organisations and political parties in telling the British and Irish Governments that we will no longer be the forgotten people of the North.
“This multi-faceted approach in opposing Brexit will involve a number of demonstrations and lobbying activities in the coming weeks and months, and I’d encourage everyone along the border to get involved.”
He concluded, “We cannot let Brexit steamroll all the progress we have made here, especially along the border area.”