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Constitutional future of the North is for the people of Ireland to decide - Mary Lou McDonald TD

17 January, 2019 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD has said that the Irish Government must push for a referendum on Irish Unity in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Deputy McDonald said that Irish rights & interests must be protected throughout Brexit, and that there cannot be a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal scenario.

Speaking in the Dáil today, Teachta McDonald said;

“A no-deal Brexit would have a catastrophic impact on the island of Ireland.

“The so-called ‘backstop’ remains the only guarantee that there will be no hard border on this island and that the interests of citizens in the North - the majority of whom voted against Brexit - will be protected.

“It must be defended and it cannot be watered down under any circumstance.

“Unless there is a backstop there is no way of guaranteeing that there will be no hard border, that the Good Friday Agreement will be protected and upheld and that citizens will continue to enjoy rights we take for granted today.

“I will speak to Theresa May tomorrow and assert that the constitutional future of the North should be put to the people in a referendum on Irish unity.

“If the people of the North are to have their futures shattered by the British establishment, then the people of the North must have their say.

“It is now time for the government here to articulate that they too would like to see a referendum being held in the event of a no-deal scenario.

“If Westminster insists on driving toward a no-deal crash, then a referendum on Irish unity, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement, must be called as the entirely rational response, which would provide a pathway for the North to retain membership of the European Union.

“In the interim, let’s hope a deal can be reached.

“If the Brits insist on Brexit that is a matter for them, but any Agreement needs to recognise, understand and protect the people of this island, our economy and our peace process.

"I appreciate the Taoiseach and Tánaiste don’t want to be seen as part of the government who impose a hard border on the island.

"Brexit is as much an issue for those in Derry or Fermanagh, as those in Dublin or Cork.

“It will adversely affect our entire island and it is vital that we deal with its challenges on that basis.

“That means respecting the fundamental principal of the supremacy of national self-determination.

“There is no such thing as a good Brexit, but the ‘backstop’ is the bottom line.

“Anyone who imagines that can be unpicked or diluted or set aside isn't dealing with the political realities.”

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