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”.

Irish Government must defend Irish interests in Brexit – Adams

Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Gerry Adams this morning attended the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at DKIT in Dundalk where the EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier made a keynote speech on Brexit.

Mr. Barnier revealed that there remains much to be agreed and that the issue of the border is at the centre of intensive work.

Gerry Adams said:

“I want to welcome the visit to Dundalk of the EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier. The All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit at DKIT was also a welcome initiative.

No part of the island, but in particular border regions like Louth, will be immune from the economic and political consequences of Brexit. We know from a whole series of reports that our agri-food and agricultural sectors are especially vulnerable.

There is therefore an imperative on the Irish government to defend the two economies on this island and to ensure that any agreement at June’s EU summit, involving the British government, must ensure that the north remain with the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework. This is the best way to protect communities on both sides of the border.”

Gerry Adams: Brexit Casts its Shadow Over Worker’s Rights

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams addressed the Global Steering Committee of the trans-national UNI Global Union in Monasterboice, County Louth, on Wednesday evening. UNI Global Union was holding its two-day international conference. Representatives from over a dozen countries participated in the conference which was looking at health care issues and the approach of the Union, which represents 20 million workers in over 150 counties worldwide, to issues like Brexit.

Gerry Adams was asked to speak to the conference on the issue of Brexit, as well as the recent 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Teachta Adams called on the Irish government, in the remaining months of the negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal treaty, to lead the demand for the North to remain within the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework. He said: “This is the best way of protecting workers rights across this island. It is also the only way to avoid a hard border, with its dire economic consequences, on the island of Ireland.”

Speaking on Brexit Gerry Adams said:

“The British referendum result in 2016 on Brexit is probably the most serious political and economic crisis to face this island in many decades. No part of the island of Ireland, and in particular border regions like County Louth, will be immune from the economic and political consequences of Brexit.

Workers will also be especially vulnerable as a consequence of Brexit. Many important elements of existing workers’ rights, such as pay and working time, are regulated by EU social law. Brexit is a threat to this.

There is little doubt that the Tories in London, supported by their allies in the DUP, will use Brexit to whittle away at hard-fought workers’ rights. They will seek to undermine the rights of trade unions – including the right to join a trade union, to strike, and to organise collectively

In terms of workers’ rights, the Tories and Brexiteers are keen to see:

·         The erosion of legislation protecting agency workers;

·         The expansion of zero-hour and if-and-when contracts;

·         The removal of key elements of anti-discrimination law;

·         Deregulation of work safety standards in the name of ‘efficiency’

·         Attacks on laws relating to migrant workers and immigration – which feeds into xenophobia

·         Attacks on the welfare state and the social wage

These issues are not confined to the north and to Britain. The conservative right in this state will also use Brexit to attack workers’ rights and standards. We are already facing a rise in if-and-when contracts, in agency workers, and the watering-down of pension and other entitlements.

Fine Gael’s moves against the welfare state in the South – making it more difficult for workers to avail of unemployment payments, along with the outsourcing of the social protection system to private, for-profit, operators – will increase under Brexit.

They will claim that this is necessary because of the “threat” caused by Brexit to the economy. In other words, what “austerity” was in the last ten years, “Brexit” will be for the next ten. This needs to be challenged and resisted.

Sinn Féin believes that this can be accomplished most effectively through a coming together of progressive forces in the north and south – political parties, trade unions, and civil society groups.

Only such progressive partnerships can genuinely resist the onslaught from the political right on the lives of ordinary people.”

Concluding Gerry Adams said:

“In the Brexit referendum the people of the North voted to remain in the EU. In the aftermath of the referendum Sinn Féin called for the North to be given a special status within the EU. That position is supported by the Oireachtas, the majority of MLAs in the Assembly and the European Parliament.

In the remaining months of the negotiations over Britain’s withdrawal treaty the Irish government must lead the demand for the North to remain within the customs union and the single market and within the EU legal framework. This is the best way of protecting workers rights across this island. It is also the only way to avoid a hard border, with its dire economic consequences, on the island of Ireland.”

Conor Murphy MLA: There Can Be No Tory-DUP Brexit Border

Conor Murphy MLA

Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy MLA has today rejected British government plans to hire British Border Force officials to monitor the British border in Ireland as a result of Brexit.

The Newry Armagh MLA said:

“With this British Border Force recruitment drive, the British government are clearly planning to impose their hard Brexit border across the island of Ireland.

“It shows that the Tories see a hard border as the predetermined outcome of the Brexit negotiations despite the fact they have already agreed to an option to avoid it.

“There can be no Tory-DUP Brexit border across Ireland. This is a deeply damaging, disruptive and dangerous position, rejected overwhelmingly by the people of this island.

“It also points to the Tory-DUP pact’s growing disregard for the Good Friday Agreement, which allows citizens to determine their own identity free from discrimination.

“Not only are they ignoring the democratic expressions of Irish citizens, they’re also actively excluding them by reserving these posts solely for citizens with British passports.

“This is naked discrimination of a public sector position, and a statement of intent to impose a Brexit border in Ireland. Sinn Féin reject both these discriminatory plans unreservedly.”

It emerged earlier this week that the position of these British Brexit Border Force personnel would all be the holders of a British passport. We are truly heading back to the bad old days. Please prepare for Brexit in whatever you can because it is going to be detrimental to the border areas and to Ireland as a whole.

Border Communities Against Brexit have been campaigning for over a year now. Join with them on their Facebook page and keep an eye on what they are doing and please support any events they have.

Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú Goes to Europe

Within hours of being at the launch of the Border Communities Against Brexit (BCAB) new poster at Killeen, Louth councillor Ruairi O Murchu was joined by members of the award-winning campaign group in Brussels where a number of events marking the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement were held.

Cllr. O Murchu, who represents Dundalk South, was among a number of guest invited to the European Parliament earlier this week by the GUE/NGL grouping, of which Sinn Fein is

Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú with the 4 SF MEPs

a member.

MEP Martina Anderson launched a photographic exhibition at the parliament in Brussels to mark the anniversary and a number of groups from Ireland, including the BCAB, members of the LGBT community, representatives of the Irish Language and victims’ groups.

On the second day of his visit, Cllr. O Murchu joined the discussion with GUE/NGL parliamentarians and other invited guests, including former Ulster Unionist John McCallister, where the positives of the Good Friday Agreement and the challenges it faces were discussed.

Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú with Matt Carthy MEP

The Dundalk councillor spoke at the event about living in a border area and the many threats posed by Brexit. He said: ‘It has been very clear that the EU as a whole recognises and supports the Good Friday Agreement and its vital importance to Ireland in the future.

‘No matter what happens when Britain leaves the EU, it is imperative that the agreement is protected and so far, the EU negotiators have made that clear to their British counterparts.

‘The threat of a hard border in the not-too-distant future looms large and it is vital that regulatory alignment exists North and South in a post-Brexit context’.