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Brexit has led many to look realistically at prospect of united Ireland - Carthy

29 June, 2016


Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has said the Brexit referendum result has been “seismic” and that its effects and ramifications should not be underestimated.

He said many people who had never previously supported the idea of a United Ireland were now examining the option.

Carthy also heavily criticised other political parties and media outlets, particularly RTÉ, for their efforts to dismiss the fact that Irish unity had become a very real prospect following Brexit.

He said some politicians and media commentators merely wished to preserve a discredited status quo.

Addressing a public meeting this evening in Dublin which called for a referendum on Irish unity as provided for under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, Matt Carthy said:

“The Brexit referendum result has been seismic. The effects and ramifications should not be underestimated. Irish interests, North and South, are gravely threatened. 

“It’s absolutely amazing how some are ignoring the major consequence for Ireland of what happened last week.

“Yesterday, in the European Parliament there was a debate on the fallout from the Brexit vote.  

“Martina Anderson, head of the joint largest delegation from Ireland spoke on behalf of people across Ireland - north, south, east and west – when she spelt out the dangers of an EU border running through our small country.

“Her speech was carried extensively in British media including on the BBC and Sky News, TV channels and radio stations and newspapers across Europe reported her remarks. 

“RTÉ ignored and instead reported a remarkably similar speech by a Scottish MEP. Most Irish media outlets followed suit.

"Something big is happening and the great and the good in this state are doing everything in their power to not to see it.”

The Midlands North West MEP said that for English votes to drag the North out of the EU against the will of its people would be another travesty in a long line of democratic travesties imposed on Ireland by Britain.

And he strongly criticised the response of other political parties, particularly Fianna Fáil to events:

“If the failure by the media to recognise the magnitude of the situation we find ourselves in isn’t surprising, the same attitude within political leaders who publicly profess to favour Irish unity is extremely disappointing.

“Sinn Féin doesn’t want, or claim ownership of the United Ireland campaign or the demand for a unity poll. But since Friday, others have been lining up to say ‘this isn’t the right time’.  

“Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour, the Green Party, SDLP and the AAA/PBP tell us they’re concerned about the timing. Among the most shameful of remarks came from the Leader of Fianna Fáil. 

Mícheál Martin dismissed the call for a referendum on Irish unity as “a distraction”.

Now, Mícheál knows all about distractions as he navigates his way in both opposition and government at the same time, but I know his views on a Unity Poll have been deeply unsettling for many Fianna Fáil members and supporters.

“Incredibly, in his recent Dáil contribution on Brexit, Mr Martin had more to say about the need to uphold the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to remain in the EU than he did about the rights of people in the north of his own country!

“Mícheál knows that re-introducing a hard border on this island would repeat and reinforce the original injustice of Partition which resulted in so much political, economic and social damage over so many years.

"So, why is he taking a position that runs contrary to the stated policy of his own party?

“At the heart of his remarks, and indeed those of the other parties I mentioned, is the absolute desire to maintain the status quo

“For us, and for many others across all sectors of Irish society, the undoing of Partition and its effects are central to the building of a truly modern, progressive, inclusive, open and forward looking society.

“Those who say ‘this isn’t the right time’ are looking for excuses. They are the same people who usually say ‘we cannot afford a United Ireland’.

“The truth is we can no longer afford a divided Ireland.

"The arguments in favour of Irish Unity are emphatic.That is why some will do whatever they can to simply avoid the debate with clichéd assertions presented as fact like “This isn’t the right time” and “we cannot afford a United Ireland.”

“Something big is happening. This is a defining moment. We need everyone, from all political parties and from all walks of life who wants to see a United Ireland, to raise their voices.

“The purpose of this meeting and the purpose of our Unity Poll campaign is to create the space where everyone can feel comfortable articulating their desires.

"This is about securing a poll on Irish Unity – but more importantly this is about winning that poll and delivering upon the potential of this nation.

“We must now seize the moment to make this a reality.”

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