EU delegation hears calls for special designated status for NI post Brexit

April 3, 2017

At a Sinn Féin-led public meeting on Thursday last, the party’s MEP Martina Anderson called for Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances within the EU to be given special recognition following the invoking of Article 50, which initiated the formal process of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

The British government now begins negotiations with the remaining EU member states regarding the terms of its ‘divorce’ and the future UK-EU relationship.

However, Ms Anderson says the fact that the majority of people in the north (56%) voted to remain in the EU must be respected and she has called for special designated status for the north to remain in the European Union.

Along with her fellow Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carty, Ms Anderson is leading a task force of MEPs from a number of EU countries on a visit to Ireland to examine the potential impact of Brexit on the north.  Among the delegation are Gabi Zimmer (Die Linke, Germany), president of the GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament, Josu Juaristi (EH Bildu, Basque country), Maria Matias (Left Bloc, Portugal), Lidia Senra (Galician Alternative Left, Spain) and Giorgios Karatsioubanis (Syriza, Greece).

Speaking at the meeting in the Carrickdale hotel, Carrickarnon, Ms Anderson said: “Following this week’s actions by the British Prime Minister, Brexit is now a reality.  The prospect of customs’ tariffs and the restriction of the free movement of goods, services and people across the border, as a result of Brexit, is now of deep and growing concern, especially to businesses, workers, students and farmers in the border region.

“Beyond the enormous and unprecedented economic challenges, any hardening of the border or undoing of progress made during the Peace Process cannot be permitted,” she warned.

Addressing those gathered, fellow MEP Matt Carty outlined the potential adverse impact of a ‘hard border’ between north and south: “We have to take a stand against an EU frontier in Ireland. We are one community and one country – we must build towards unity not further division.

“Sinn Féin is working to ensure the continued freedom of movement of people and goods within Ireland, without tariffs or border controls, and to safeguard cross-border structural and peace funding.  We wish to secure the position of the whole island of Ireland within the European Union, in line with the democratically expressed wishes of the people of the North.”

Calling on the Irish government to use the forthcoming Brexit negotiations to secure designated special status for the north of Ireland within the EU, Mr Carty continued: “Our preference is for a referendum on Irish unity, and a recent Red C poll found that a majority of those polled believe that Irish unity is the best way to avoid a hard border.

“However, political leaders should also look to unique arrangements which are already in place in the EU.  Denmark is an EU member, yet Greenland is outside the Union and still receives European funding.

“The EU, as a result of a decision by the European Council in April 1990, became an active persuader for the reunification of Germany.  Northern Cyprus, in the event of Cypriot reunification, will be fully integrated into the EU.  Its seats in the European Parliament are allocated on the basis of the population of the island of Cyprus, not merely the de-facto state.

“This is an arrangement that must be considered for Ireland, given the inherent right of those born on this island to Irish citizenship, and by virtue of that right, citizenship of the EU,” he added.