Pats on the back and thumbs up are not going to protect Ireland from Brexit – Doherty
Sinn Féin TD and Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, speaking during Pre-European Council statements in the Dáil today, said that the challenge posed by Brexit must be met with the urgency and strategic vision that it demands and that an Taoiseach Enda Kenny looks weak because he has not adopted that solid and meaningful negotiating position for Ireland
The Donegal TD said:
“There is no doubt that Brexit poses the biggest threat to the socio-economic future of the people of this island. It also has the potential to do serious damage to the Good Friday Agreement.
“The British government has ignored the democratically expressed will of the people of the north. The majority of the people in the six counties voted to remain in the European Union.
“The threat to Ireland, arising from Britain’s divorce from the European Union, does not register in any substantive way with the British Prime Minister.
“However, the Irish government cannot be excused for an approach to Brexit which ignores the rights of citizens in the north and which abdicates its responsibility to uphold their democratic vote to remain in the EU.
“The letter triggering Article 50 and the EU Council draft negotiation guidelines demonstrates the Irish Government’s negligence when it comes to representing the interests of the Irish people.
“The people of Ireland have an expectation that this government will demand more, that it will argue for more and that it will achieve more in these crucial negotiations.
“The Spanish government has already shown what is achievable if you approach the Brexit challenge with a concrete commitment to upholding national interests.
“The veto achieved by the Spanish government in regards of Gibraltar is exactly the type of substantive commitment that this government should have sought in the respect of the North.
“It is in keeping with your responsibility for the North under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement; yet, Enda Kenny did not even raise this possibility for Ireland.
“In a continuation of the Government’s feeble approach; the Taoiseach has just returned from Europe with very little to show for his efforts.
“The government’s negotiating strategy is non-existent and, as a result, the Taoiseach looks very weak.
“He looks weak because he has not adopted a solid and meaningful negotiating position for Ireland.
“He is happy to collect vague expressions of understanding of Ireland’s unique position when it comes to Brexit and to amass a catalogue of non-binding declarations of support.
“Pats on the back and thumbs up for other EU leaders are not going to protect the people of this island from the impact of Brexit.
“The solid and meaningful negotiating position, which the government must now formally adopt, is designated special status for the north within the European Union.
“Designated special status within the EU will allow for the economic prosperity, trade relationships and jobs of the entire Island of Ireland to be protected and enhanced together.
“It is the type of imaginative and innovative approach that has been called for by the European Union itself.
“Yet, incredibly, the Taoiseach and the government have refused to advocate for this position.
“Maybe it is because the case for designated special status challenges the view of this government that Ireland ends at the border?
“This is in spite of the fact that every citizen in the North has a right to Irish citizenship and a legal expectation therefore that your government will uphold their rights, which also includes the right to EU citizenship even after Brexit.
“The challenge posed by Brexit must be met with the urgency and strategic vision that it demands.
“Special status will ensure that the whole island of Ireland can remain within the EU together.
“The Taoiseach must make this case strongly at the meeting of the European Council on April 29.”