North EU Exit would ‘harden border’ - Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has outlined the negative implications of a ‘Brexit’, not least the hardening of divisions between north and south.
Speaking in the Dáil today, the Cavan-Monaghan TD said:
“There is no doubt that a north of Ireland exit would harden the divisions between north and south on this island, with the potential for the re-introduction of customs checkpoints, trading tariffs and adverse knock-on effects for all-island economic activity and cooperation. This would re-affirm and harden the border and could be the most intense development on the border landscape since partition.
“A British and north of Ireland exit would also damage the agri-economy, especially in the six counties, and have huge negative impacts on many local businesses. Ultimately it is clear that such an exit would have implications for the natural trade pattern that has grown across this island.
“Sinn Féin has strongly criticised the referendum structure as undemocratic, because if the north of Ireland votes to remain in the EU, but the overall result is to leave, the wishes of the people of the North are not respected. If there is a vote in Britain to leave the EU, there is a democratic imperative to provide Irish citizens with the right to vote in a Border Poll to end partition and to retain a role in the EU, if that is the people of Ireland’s choice.
“The Good Friday Agreement provides for a border poll to be conducted with Britain bound to legislate for any change arising.
“My colleague and the North’s Joint First Minister Martin McGuinness has asked Theresa Villiers, given the enormous significance of these issues, to provide a British government commitment to an immediate border poll in the event Britain votes to leave the European Union. I call on the Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs to similarly press their respective British Government counterparts.
“What is required now is for all of us to work collectively and to voice our vigorous opposition to a British and north of Ireland exit. Let us ensure by our continuing efforts that the social, cultural, economic and political gains made over these past eighteen years, since the Good Friday Agreement was so overwhelmingly endorsed, are built upon in the interest of our island and all its people.”