THE people of Ireland will be damaged the most by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union and the only solution to the “Brexit problem” is Irish reunification, Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has claimed.
With just under a month to go until the UK is due to exit the EU, Ms Anderson said there was “deep and genuine concern” across the North because of the lack of legal certainty over what is going to happen after March 29.
With so much uncertainty in the political sphere in the North and at Westminster, the MEP claimed that it would be “reckless” of Sinn Féin not to push for reunification at this point.
“We’re in the mess we’re in because of partition. Do we want to ignore the elephant in the room? We can get out of this mess. There is a legitimate conversation taking place,” she said.
The Derry woman, who has campaigned for the North to be given “special designated status” to remain within the EU, was in Strabane this week to give advice to rural community groups and local businesses worried about what the future holds.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, she warned that the North would lose out whether there was a ‘no deal’ Brexit or even a Withdrawal Agreement containing the ‘backstop’ proposal.
She said, “Two things could happen to us. We’re going over a cliff along with the British government and we’re going to have to pick ourselves up from the rubble. Or we’re going to hit a wall, and in hitting that wall we’re going to be backlashed.
“We’re being hurt and damaged by this, whatever the outcome.”
The MEP said that the ‘backstop’, if implemented, would prevent physical infrastructure along the border on the island of Ireland and would also give local businesses the opportunity to trade with the EU – a market with 500million people – as well as retaining unfettered access to the market in Britain.
But Ms Anderson warned that the ‘backstop’ would not give local farmers their single farm payments, would not give rural development funding to community groups or afford protection to the EU nationals who came here to work in the health service or the agri-food industry.
“The ‘backstop’ does not provide the £3.5 billion of European funding that comes to the North. No one would convince me that a Tory administration is going to replace that,” she also said.
The Sinn Féin MEP claimed it would be the people of Ireland who would be damaged the most as a consequence of the “chaos” that was taking place in the British establishment.
“That is why there is increasing noise and moves being made by people about a conversation in relation to the constitutional status of this place,” she said.
Looking at proposals to unite North and South, Ms Anderson said that, in an all-Ireland context, there would be 215 members of the Irish parliament, with 58 coming from the North.
She claimed that this would give unionists “quite a stake” in shaping the new Ireland in governance terms.
“I could imagine unionists having a role in government. Maybe more than we would have,” the Sinn Féin representative said.
She added, “I could imagine many unionists, who would never have had an Irish passport in their house and are now running around with them in their pockets, would at least countenance the question, which union do you want to be part of?”
Posted: 3:07 pm March 3, 2019