Adams demands separate EU vote for North if Cameron wins
Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has demanded a separate, legally binding vote for the North on EU membership, if the Conservative Party wins the British General Election.
Speaking in the Dáil today on ‘Challenges Facing the European Union’, Mr Adams said a British referendum which took the North out of the EU would reinforce Partition and have major negative implications for the Irish economy, farmers and workers and in particular people living in the border counties,
“If British Prime Minister David Cameron wins next Thursday’s general election, he has pledged that by 2017, he will hold a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union. This is of course, a paranoid political reaction to the perceived electoral threat of the Eurosceptic UKIP.
“It is also further evidence that the political considerations of the Tories, and indeed Labour, are primarily about England and English issues.
“The stark reality of any EU referendum is that it could take the north of Ireland out of the European Union. The referendum will allow the views of English voters to dictate the future relationship of the North, and therefore this island, with Europe.
“This fact further underlines the total folly of the DUP and UUP support for the Tories. It is selfish, insular politics in action with implications for Ireland as a whole.
“It would reinforce Partition. The already economically disruptive border would be reinforced by an international frontier staffed by passport checkpoints and customs control.”
Mr Adams said an EU exit of a part of this island would hinder free movement and severely disrupt the day-to-day lives of people living along the border. He said Irish workers, farmers, and enterprises will pay the human, social and economic price:
“There will be no Single Farm Payment or Rural Development Fund, no Structural Funds and no Peace Funding.
“A million people along the border are already paying the price of Partition through roaming charges, the costs of two currencies, additional bank charges and barriers to accessing the nearest public services.
“The current Tory proposal for a referendum, without a separate binding vote in
the north, denies people here the power to make decisions about their own
lives. It is the people of Ireland who should decide the economic, social and
political future of Ireland. This includes the right to a separate and binding
referendum in the north on European Union membership.”
He said that while Sinn Féin was critical of the EU's democratic deficit, it had the potential to provide a bridge towards the greater integration of Ireland, north and south:
“It is the responsibility of our Government to actively promote this objective. Indeed there is a Constitutional imperative for the Government to do so.
“The potential for
the north to positively reshape our relationship with Europe in the context of
the limited and narrow British vote on EU membership should not be overlooked.
“Parties with no democratic mandate in any part of Ireland cannot be allowed the power to dictate the political or economic future of this country.”
“The Sinn Fein Leader said citizens in the North should have the right to express their will through a separate, legally binding vote on EU membership and said it was the only position which made democratic sense.
“It is a position which the Taoiseach needs to support if, in the future, a referendum is organized by an incoming British Government.”