Better no border at all – Adams

Speaking in tonight’s Dáil debate on the draft Withdrawal Agreement relating to Brexit the Louth TD Gerry Adams expressed his concern at the failure of the draft Agreement to protect the rights of Irish/EU citizens living in the North and of the dangers Brexit poses to the Good Friday Agreement.

The Louth TD reminded the Taoiseach that last December he said that citizens in the North “will never again be left behind by an Irish Government”. Last December’s Joint Report by the ERU and British government stated that there would be “no diminution of rights” and that “Irish citizens will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland”

However, this has now been deleted. That is a significant backward step. While the draft Agreement does contain a clause on rights it is not legally binding. The government should be very aware that Irish citizens in the North are very conscious of that. Recently one thousand leaders of civic nationalism reminded the Taoiseach of his commitments”.

Teachta Adams raised the fact that Irish and EU citizens in the North will not be able to elect an MEP. He asked the Taoiseach if in light of the additional two seats being allocated to the state for the European Parliament, if the government has “considered allocating them to the North?”

The Louth TD pointed out that the draft Withdrawal Agreement means that the European Charter of Fundamental Rights will no longer apply in the north, which means that certain rights will be undermined. These include “a range of social and economic rights, including workers’ rights, which people currently enjoy in the EU which will now be left to the British government’s discretion”.

The Louth TD also raised the threat posed by Brexit to the Good Friday Agreement, and in particular the failure of the British government to exercise its power in the North with rigorous impartiality. Gerry Adams said: “The British refusal to defend the rights of Irish language speakers; to protect equality and human rights for gay and lesbian citizens; to implement agreements on legacy; or to honour outstanding Agreement commitments, on establishing a Bill of Rights, and create a Civic Forum, are all evidence of the absence of ‘rigorous impartiality’.

Moreover, following Brexit the British Conservatives remain wedded to ending the role of the European Court of Justice and getting rid of the Human Rights Act which protects the equality and human rights principles of the Agreement. Brexit is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement.”

Concluding Gerry Adams proposed that in the context of Brexit Irish unity takes on a greater significance and imperative.

He said: “This is a logical, common sense outcome to the political, social and economic fractures imposed by partition but it also makes sense in the current Brexit provoked crisis. Apart from any other consideration reunification will allow for the North to again become part of the EU. Hard border? Soft border? Better to have no border at all. That’s what the government and the Oireachtas should be working for.”

Adams questions May’s Commitment to no hard border

Speaking in the Dáil today on his Brexit Bill Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams expressed concern at claims of ‘new thinking’ by the British in dealing with the issue of a hard border said that the “Irish government carries an onerous responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens on this island, both in relation to Brexit and the future of the Good Friday Agreement”.

The Louth TD expressed his disappointment that the government rejected a Sinn Féin Bill which called for additional formal reporting by the government to the Dáil on the Brexit negotiations.

Commenting on recent developments in the Brexit process the former Sinn Féin leader expressed his concern at the commitment of Theresa May to ensure that there will be no border controls. Teachta Adams specifically raised the issue of rights for EU citizens in the North. The EU Legal Text published on March 1st was very explicit on this but thus far we have seen no progress.

Addressing Minister Coveney, Teachta Adams said:

“Today, following his meeting with Theresa May, the Taoiseach reports that the British will now table a new proposal on a future customs relationship within the next two weeks. This is new thinking he said.

We were told that in December when the EU/British joint agreement was achieved only to have the British Prime Minister repudiate the EU legal text in February. Remember her blunt: “No UK prime Minister would ever agree to it.” Why should this time be any different?

This is the same British Prime Minister who last week claimed that only British soldiers are being investigated in relation to legacy matters. As the Minister knows this is a patent untruth.

This is the same British government that refuses to provide information on the role of its agents in the Dublin-Monaghan bombs which took place on this date 44 years ago.

And this is the same British Prime Minister who has done a deal with the DUP which is taking precedence over her obligations in respect of the Good Friday Agreement.

The EU legal text accepts that the alignment option contained in the December agreement means that the North shall be “considered part of the customs territory of the EU”. It explicitly states that there should be “no diminution of rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity as set out” in the Good Friday Agreement. And it definitively demands that the Good Friday Agreement and its subsequent implementation agreements “should be protected in all its parts”. There is significant concern at the British commitment to this.

In his response to the joint agreement in December the Taoiseach addressed northern nationalist and said: “There will be no hard border on our island. You will never again be left behind by an Irish Government”.
The Irish government therefore carries an onerous responsibility to live up to this commitment and to protect the rights of all citizens on this island, both in relation to Brexit and the future of the Good Friday Agreement.
If an agreement is reached in the upcoming negotiations between the EU and the British government, it cannot fall short of the position that the legal text has established”.

Businesses Should Prepare for Brexit – Cllr Ó Murchú

Cllrs Ó Murchú & Campbell with Thomas McEvoy (Louth LEO)

Sinn Féin Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has warned that Companies and businesses especially in the border area need to prepare for Brexit.

“While the emphasis needs to be on an EU and governmental solution to Brexit, small and medium enterprises should prepare for a worst case hard Brexit situation.

“Only 6% of SMEs in the South and 2% of SMEs in the North have a plan in place to deal with the possible impact from Brexit according to AIB’s fourth quarter 2017 Brexit Sentiment Index.”

Cllr Ó Murchú said “Thomas McEvoy, Head of Enterprise, and the Louth Enterprise Office have been briefing Louth County Council on the twists and turns of Brexit and they were instrumental in putting on the truly informative ‘Post Brexit International and Cross Border Conference’ in the Carrickdale Hotel recently.

“Not only were the obvious dangers to the economy across the island highlighted but also the varied facets of the impact of Brexit; it will have a bearing on taxation, employment, trade, customs, transport and logistics, compliance rules, legislation, importation, exportation etc. During council briefings and this conference there has been a strong emphasis on Brexit preparation programmes that are being put on offer for companies.”

Cllr Ó Murchú advised that “here is a necessity to draw the business community’s attention to these Brexit preparation aids. InterTrade Ireland has a ‘Brexit Voucher’ system which allows companies to engage a professional, to the value of €1,250 to evaluate its exposure to Brexit. Enterprise Ireland offer ‘Be Prepared Grants’ for SMEs who would benefit from further research and may need specialist services in developing their Brexit plan. This grant can be up to €5,000.

“Any measures which may mitigate some of the negatives of the Brexit process on Irish companies are to be welcomed. I would encourage companies and businesses in Louth to seek further information on ‘Brexit Vouchers’ and other related programmes from the Local Enterprise Office. We are very unprepared for Brexit and we are just over a year away”

For information on the Brexit Vochers or other related help go to localenterprise.ie/louth.

 

Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú: Hard Border Brexit would be like the Germans rebuilding the Berlin Wall

Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has called on DUP voters, Unionist farmers and businesses to challenge and confront the DUP on their Brexit stance following the debacle on Monday which seen the Brexit negotiations deteriorate into a farce.

There appeared to be agreement to move forward but following a phone call between DUP leader Arlene Foster and British Prime Minister Teresa May, those plans were scuppered.

Cllr Ó Murchú said “The DUP are being reckless in their quest to copper fasten their Britishness. The north should not be removed from the Customs Union and the Single Market. It is hard to see a solution which works for the people of the border region and across Ireland other than the North remaining within the EU. Sinn Féin has consistently sought a Designated Special Status for the north within the European Union and this makes the most sense economically.”

The Louth Councillor went on to say “People will not accept the return of border installations to this part of Ireland. There can be no removal of the rights and protections contained within the Good Friday Agreement. Trade, healthcare and communities would be greatly impacted by a return of border checks and stops. Economic devastation to Co. Louth is the only guarantee of a Hard Border Brexit. A Hard Border Brexit would be as absurd as the Germans rebuilding the Berlin Wall.”

Cllr Ó Murchú called on the Irish government to remain firm on the issue of the border and is encouraging all those who live in Co Louth and beyond to attend a ‘go-slow’ protest at the border at Carrickarnon (just past the Carrickdale) on Saturday morning at 11am. There will be a mock customs post erected and people can see for themselves the absurdity and effects of a hard border.

Everyone is welcome.

 

Watters takes Coffey to task over hard border claim

Sinn Fein Louth County Councillor Antóin Watters has described Fianna Fail Councillor Emma Coffey’s call for a “hard border” after Brexit as “short sighted and a surrender to the threat posed by the British government’s Brexit plans.”

Councillor Watters said:

“The consensus position among parties in the Dáil, and in the North, is for the minimum disruption possible to the two economies on the island of Ireland, and especially to the border counties, as a result of Brexit. Most support the north being designated a special status within the EU to facilitate this.

“The Fianna Fáil Councillor appears to have accepted that the efforts of her own party and of the rest of us will fail. Her stance reflects a recent call by Fianna Fáil for an electronic border similar to the toll system operating on the M50. In the event of the border becoming an EU international border this proposal has already been rubbished as insufficient.

“Her approach is also hugely contradictory. Having pointed out the difficulty in monitoring 500 km of border and hundreds of roads, and acknowledged the thousands who cross the border every day as workers or tourists or to visit family, Councillor Coffey demands that we should accept the need for a hard border.

“Any EU frontier on the island of Ireland would be a backward step and no self-respecting politician who claims to want a united Ireland or to be called a republican should be advocating such an outcome.

“What is required is a political and not an electronic solution to Brexit and certainly not a hard border.”