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Sinn Féin Chairperson to address Berlin conference on Future of Europe

6 April, 2016

Sinn Féin Chairperson, Declan Kearney will address an audience in Berlin tonight (6th April) on the issue of the British referendum on EU Membership and the future direction of the EU. This significant event is being hosted by the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation, (a transnational alternative policy group and educational institution, centred in Germany.) 

Speaking on the message he will deliver, Mr Kearney said:

"I will set out Sinn Féin's vision of a Europe which is democratic, social and promotes global peace. The negative Brexit agenda challenges that positive vision.  

“A better European Union which properly serves the sovereign and democratic needs of its member states and 500 million citizens can only be achieved by campaigning for change and reform from within the EU institutions.

“Brexit is opposite to Ireland's national interests. Ireland's place North and South is within the EU. I will provide a detailed assessment of what a Brexit would mean in terms of lost investment and export opportunity; negative implications for border controls and common travel; and the protection of workers and other rights.  

"I will explain that a withdrawal by the British state from the EU, would represent a major set-back for the political process in the north of Ireland and relationships between the two islands. It would dramatically change the political context and in such circumstances a Border poll should be held 

“Brexit would also pose a direct challenge to the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement, an internationally binding treaty and undermine all-Ireland co-operation.

“In broader terms the financial losses of EU investment, subsidies and funds to the north of Ireland, and the southern border counties, arising from a British withdrawal would be in the region of £2.5 billion. There would be hugely negative repercussions for FDI and the development of the north's export capacity regarding access to EU, and global markets.

“The arguments for a withdrawal made by the advocates of Brexit do not take account of the negative financial impact on our regional economy or the potentially devastating effects it would have on the social fabric of rural communities who are heavily dependent of EU subsidies.

“None of the proponents of a Brexit including those in the north of Ireland, have set out how the economic disadvantages for the North would be offset if Brexit was to happen. The reason is that the Brexit agenda is entirely about managing internal divisions within the British Conservative party and the rise of narrow English nationalism. 

“Sinn Fein believe that an effectively mobilized body of popular opinion against Brexit, particularly in the north of Ireland, Scotland and Wales could have a very decisive influence on the outcome of the 23rd June referendum.

"We will continue to take every opportunity to encourage progressive local and European alliances in opposition to Brexit, and to provide responsible and strategic leadership on this issue." 

Other panellists at the Berlin event are -

John Palmer - a former European editor of the Guardian and former political director of the European Policy Centre.

Dr. Nicolai von Ondarza - Deputy Head of Research in the EU/Europe Division of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs.

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