Matt Carthy MEP presses need to protect border regions in meeting with Michel Barnier
Sinn Féin MEPs Matt Carthy and Martina Anderson met with EU Chief Negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, in Brussels today, Wednesday.
The Sinn Féin representatives pressed Mr Barnier on the need to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement, the all-Ireland economy and the rights of citizens in the North in the event of the no-deal Brexit.
Speaking from Brussels following the meeting, MEP for the Midlands North West Matt Carthy said:
“This was an important and productive meeting in which we set out our grave concerns regarding the impact of Brexit on Ireland, including the impact of an increasingly likely no-deal Brexit.
“It was particularly important for me, as someone from the border county of Monaghan, to again set out the potential devastating economic, political and social impact Brexit could have on our communities, farmers, workers and businesses.
“We impressed upon Mr Barnier our view that any new border controls imposed on the island of Ireland by either the British government, the Irish government or the EU, in the case of a no-deal Brexit to be absolutely unacceptable and unworkable.
"The backstop is far from ideal but it is the one existing agreement we have against a hard border and it cannot be reneged on under any circumstances. It is our one insurance policy for the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and the all-Ireland economy.
“We also raised our serious concerns about the apparent attempts by the British government in recent weeks to strip Irish citizens in the North of their rights by attempts to categorise them as British by default, denying them their legally enshrined rights as Irish and EU citizens.
“On the question of a potential no-deal Brexit, we urged Mr Barnier to give serious consideration to Sinn Féin’s proposal for substantial emergency EU funding for the regions and sectors in Ireland that will be most severely affected by such an economic shock.
"The Irish government must set up an emergency Brexit contingency fund but we need the EU’s financial support in order to ensure this contingency fund is actually effective in our hour of need.
“In the event of a no-deal Brexit we need to work with the EU to implement creative solutions that will allow the North to remain membership of the customs union and the single market, and to continue to provide the vital EU funding for our community and development sector that has benefited it substantially over the past decades.
“We also stressed that the obvious solution to the Brexit disaster for Ireland is for the reunification of our country through a border poll to be held under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
"This will resolve the border problem once and for all, and allow the majority of the people in the North who voted to remain in the EU to have their wishes fulfilled and rights maintained.
“Sinn Féin will be redoubling our efforts in the coming weeks and months to win support at all levels in the EU for a border poll on Irish unity and the continued inclusion of the North in the EU, the obvious ultimate solution to this debacle that threatens our rights, our living standards and our economy.”