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.”

Conflicting government accounts of Customs posts – Adams

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin’s Louth TD Gerry Adams has warned of the; “ruinous impact of Brexit on Louth and the border region. I am especially concerned at reports that the government is preparing for a return of a hard border by identifying locations for customs posts. Media reports claim that Revenue Commissioner officials have been engaged to determine all “legal and practical implications of a range of scenarios”.

“This allegedly includes the examination and identification of locations for full border check points with ‘red and green channel’ facilities in Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Leitrim, and Donegal. It is also claimed that the M1 motorway between Dublin and Belfast is to be a particular focus for customs officials,

“In the Dáil today (Wednesday) I asked the Taoiseach about this media report that the Government is looking at possible sites for customs posts along the Border. I asked him to confirm or deny this.

“In his response the Taoiseach told me: ‘I hope nobody is looking for sites along the Border. I have seen reports drafted by customs officials but I have an agreement with the British Government that there will be no return to the Border of the past and that means customs posts along the Border. This is a British policy. It is not a technological issue. This is a political challenge. We do not want to see that happen because Deputy Adams knows the implications of that very well. We will not stand for any return to the Border of the past. We will make that case very strongly and clearly. Nobody I have met North or South wants to a return to that.’

“The difficulty is if the government fails to support Sinn Féin’s call for the North to have a special designated status then the only land border between the EU and Britain will be on this island and that will be a hard economic border.

“The government urgently needs to clarify these contradictory positions. The people of Louth and the border communities North and South do not want a return of customs posts and checkpoints. Such a development would have serious economic consequences for jobs, the farming community, the fishing industry and local enterprises. Brexit is already hurting local businesses and this would make that situation worse.”

There will be a Brexit protest held this Saturday 18th February 2017 at 10am and we urge everyone who is opposed to Brexit, to attend.

Brexit Protest


Brexit threatens Border communities

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD opened the Towards a United Ireland conference in the Mansion House in Dublin on Saturday 21st January.

It was a packed conference which included as panel speakers Michelle O’Neill MLA, Susan McKay, Keven Meagher, Brian Feeney, Alex Kane, Mary Lou McDonald TD, Noel Whelan, Cat Boyd and Matt Carthy MEP.

In his remarks to capacity audience the Louth TD warned of the dangers of Brexit, particularly for the border community.
Gerry Adams said:

“There are immediate challenges facing those of us who want a united independent Ireland. But what is clear is that partition has failed unionists. It has failed nationalists. It has failed the people of this island. And ending partition has now taken on a new imperative following last summer’s Brexit vote.

As the dire economic implications of Brexit take shape there is an opportunity to promote a new agreed Ireland. Sinn Féin’s proposition that the North be accorded a designated special status within the EU will not affect the constitutional question. Taking the North out of the EU will. It will destroy the Good Friday Agreement.

Clearly the preferred option of many unionists and many nationalists is to remain within the EU. The speech by Theresa May will have reinforced this. The dangers of a hard Brexit, especially for the border communities, are now more obvious than before. The North needs a special designated status within the EU. The Irish government needs to adopt this as a strategic objective in its negotiations within the EU 27 as they negotiate with the British Prime Minister.

I have raised this consistently with the Taoiseach. However, as we saw this week in the Irish governments response to the speech by Theresa May there is at this time no strategic plan coming from the government. That is a cause of real concern.

The British government’s intention to take the North out of the EU, despite the wish of the people there to remain, is a hostile action. Not just because of the implications of a hard border on this island but also because of its negative impact on the Good Friday Agreement.

The British Prime Minister repeated her intention to bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court. Along with her commitment to remove Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights this stand threatens to undermine the fundamental human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement. The British position also fails to take account of the fact that citizens in the North, under the Agreement, have a right to Irish citizenship and therefore EU citizenship.

All of this, and the current crisis around the RHI scandal is creating new political conditions. I believe that if we properly frame the positive arguments the potential of a new, reimagined, confident Ireland within the European Union, will prove attractive to some unionists.

There is an onus on the Irish Government to prepare a real plan for unity. A first step in this would be the development of an all-party group to bring forward a Green Paper for Unity.  In addition, plans should be developed for an all-island National Health Service and for all island public services through a ‘United Ireland Investment and Prosperity Plan’.

Now is the time for all parties who support Irish unity to come together to design the pathway to a new, agreed, inclusive united Ireland – an Ireland that is built on equality and which is citizen-centred and inclusive.”

Adams meets Border Communities Against Brexit group in Dáil

Bernard Boyle, John Sheridan, Gerry, Declan Fearon, Kaniah Cusack

Bernard Boyle, John Sheridan, Gerry, Declan Fearon, Kaniah Cusack

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams met representatives of the Border Communities Against Brexit group in the Dáil this week where they were making a submission to the Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement committee on the issue of Brexit.

Gerry Adams said:

“I want to commend the work of the Border Communities group. The issue of Brexit is probably the most important and difficult challenge facing the citizens of this island in recent decades.

This week Bord Bia in its annual Export Review and Prospects Report concluded that Brexit cost the Irish food and drink industry €570 million in 2016. Exports to Britain have fallen by 8% in the last year. Bord Bia also warned that the situation would remain serious for the industry throughout this year.

A recent report by the German Chambers of Commerce World-wide and the German Irish Chamber of Commerce painted a gloomy picture for this island in the event of Brexit. It said that as the EU member most connected with Britain that we will suffer most from market volatility and unpredictability from the impact of Brexit. It specifically identifies key sectors, including Foreign Direct Investment, agri-food and tourism, as well as a likely damaging effect on our energy security.

In my discussions with the Border Communities Against Brexit delegation they expressed serious concern about the impact of a so-called hard border and the possibility of a return to the bad years of border road closures. The blocking and destruction of hundreds of cross border roads during the years of conflict life along the border, especially for farmers and local business.

In their submission to the Dáil’s Good Friday Agreement Committee they pointed out that: Currently on Europe’s eastern border Frontex is responsible for the implementation of the Hard Border that exists there. All small roads are closed and people are forced through large designated checkpoints. In Slovakia for example there are Three Crossings Ubla, Vysne Nemecke and Zahony, these a large scale crossing with 6 – 8 lanes, where passports, visa’s, the vehicles and there contents are checked. Currently if you live more than 50 miles from the European Border you must apply a week in advance to gain entry, anyone living within 50 miles can apply for a yearly pass.”

The British Prime Minister Theresa May is also refusing to tell the Executive in the North, or the Scottish or Welsh Cabinets her negotiation strategy for Brexit. This is causing serious concern.

Sinn Féin believes that the Remain vote in the North must be respected by the British government. There is a particular onus on the Irish government to work for the North as a special designated region within the European Union. In a recent document published by the party – Brexit – The case for the North to achieve Designated Special Status within the EU – we spell out how this can be achieved. We also reference other examples within the existing EU structures were such arrangements have been agreed and are in place.

The vast majority of citizens on the island of Ireland understand the imperative of opposing one part of the island – the North – being dragged out of the EU. The adverse impact on the whole island would be substantial.

There is an onus on the Irish government to put in place a comprehensive strategy that refuses to be mesmerised by what the London government is going to do. The Taoiseach needs to focus on an all-island vision and in particular on securing a designated special status for the North within the EU.”

Corrigan Shocked And Insulted At Government Diagram

Cllr Edel CorriganSinn Féin Councillor Edel Corrigan was shocked when she received a copy of a Department of Environment, Community and Local Government communication which included a circular showing the final phase in the consolidation of regional structures and included what looked like a map of Ireland. However, all was not as it should be.

Speaking in Dundalk after the Council meeting, Cllr Corrigan said “I was shocked and insulted when I received a copy of this circular which includes a map of regions and strategic planning areas. The map completely excludes the six counties in the north. It’s as if the country has a new coast line and the six counties have been completely removed.

“I am deeply insulted as an Irish citizen, member of local government, Irish nationalist, and active member of a number of cross border initiatives”.

Councillor Edel Corrigan along with members of the local authority and local community are on a number of cross border bodies such as the East border Regional Authority, Memorandum of Understanding, Committee and Border Regional Authority whose aims are to develop the area and improve the North East region through business, social, health and public services.

“We in Louth and particularly Dundalk are reported to be one of the most deprived areas in Ireland due to the existence of the border and we work hard to promote Dundalk as a linear gateway between Dublin and Belfast to try and attract investment, yet this government department has cut off the island of Ireland at the edge of north Louth. What kind of message does this send out?”

At Councillor Corrigan’s request, it was agreed that Louth County Council would write to the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government to express their disappointment at their disregard for the North of Ireland.

Concluding, Cllr Corrigan said “To totally disregard the north of Ireland and remainder of ulster is a complete insult and is a horrendous action by this Government Department. They could have at least afforded the recognition of the six counties on their map.

“We need the government to be active in promoting cross border economic regional development to improve this region, not cut us off from our neighbouring counties.”

The Offending Diagram

The Offending Diagram