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We need an all-Ireland response to Brexit – McGuinness

19 August, 2016 - by Martin McGuinness

Writing in the Irish Times today, Sinn Féin MLA and deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness said :

“The island of Ireland is facing the biggest constitutional crisis since partition as a result of the Brexit referendum. The decision to press ahead with Brexit following the referendum fundamentally undermines the Belfast Agreement and other agreements. It represents a major setback for the political process in the North.

“Brexit will undermine all-Ireland bodies and co-operation created by the peace process and it will harden partition. It will have consequences for human rights legislation which, again, is specifically referred to in the Belfast and subsequent agreements. The agreements, the Irish economy, the views of the Irish Government and the wishes of our people have been set aside by the British government.

“The current economic uncertainty is already damaging trade and investment and causing currency fluctuations which impact particularly on cross-Border business and exports. But all of that will become overshadowed if we see the imposition of tariffs and the restriction of free movement of goods, services and people on the island of Ireland.

“An EU frontier, hard or soft, stretching from Dundalk to Derry, is not in our national interest. And it’s all very well for Theresa May to say she doesn’t want a return to the borders of the past. But when she was home secretary, she was absolutely clear that Brexit would inevitably lead to renewed border checks in some form. I fear that this is exactly what will happen.

“From our perspective, what is needed now is an island-wide approach to dealing with this crisis. That is why Sinn Féin called on the Taoiseach to establish an all-Ireland forum to discuss the impact of the referendum, to develop strategies and options to ensure that the vote in the North is respected and to safeguard our national interests.

“The clock is ticking. The economic impacts of the Brexit vote are being felt. The British have made clear that they will trigger Brexit early in the New Year. This will be followed by at least two years of EU negotiations. An immediate and first step would be for the Taoiseach to call together all interested parties and bodies to map out the options for the future.

“Our party will play a full role in working along with the Taoiseach to defend our national interests and the democratic vote in the North. It is time we had a genuine, mature and rational debate about the challenge of Brexit."

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