Louth Sinn Féin launch A Plan for Brexit – No Border, No Barriers, Protect the All-Ireland Economy.

Louth Sinn Féin has launched its plan to address the immediate social and economic issues arising from Brexit, including the need for a referendum on Irish Unity.

The event, which took place in An Táin, Dundalk, on Friday 1st March, was chaired by Councillor Anne Campbell and attended by numerous Sinn Féin activists and members of the local media.

Councillor Ó Murchú said, “With just over 4 weeks to go before the March 29th deadline it’s fair to say that the chaos in the British government surrounding Brexit has reached new depths of confusion.

“The British Conservative Party and Parliament are as deeply divided as ever as a result of that government’s incompetence in managing the self-inflicted Brexit crisis. “Brexit poses a significant threat to the economy of County Louth, to jobs and infrastructure. It threatens the two economies on this island, will undermine social cohesion, and directly attacks the Good Friday Agreement.

“In the referendum in 2016 the clear majority of voters in the North voted to remain within the EU. The DUP and the British government continue to disrespect that democratic vote.

“Sinn Féin has consistently campaigned in the European Parliament, the Dáil and Westminster to ensure there is no hard border and that communities and businesses, especially along the border corridor, are protected.

“The withdrawal agreement, and in particular the backstop arrangement, if implemented would go some way to achieving this objective. “However, we should not lose sight of the fact that the current draft withdrawal agreement will not stop Brexit.

“The onus to defend the two economies on this island and the rights of citizens in the North, rests squarely with the Irish government.

“The Irish Government in its lobby of our EU neighbours on Brexit rightly stressed the centrality of the Good Friday Agreement to the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

“Yet we have the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach repeatedly dismissing a part of the agreement, which is a referendum on Irish unity.

“That too is a key provision and an integral part of the Good Friday Agreement.

“The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste cannot cherry-pick from the Good Friday Agreement. There is a responsibility and a constitutional obligation to promote the goal of Irish unity and to work to achieve it through democratic dialogue and negotiation.

“This paper seeks to address the immediate social and economic issues arising from Brexit, including the need for a referendum on Irish Unity.”

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.”

Brexit chaos threat to Louth – Adams

Commenting on the current crisis arising from Brexit withdrawal agreement Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams

” Brexit is a deadly serious issue. It poses a significant threat to the economy of County Louth, to jobs and infrastructure. It threatens the two economies on this island, will undermine social cohesion, and directly attacks the Good Friday Agreement. The crisis within the British government, the chaos within Westminster, and the fallout between the DUP and the Tory leader Theresa May highlights the stupidity, insanity, absurdity and ludicrousness of Brexit.

“In the referendum in 2016 the clear majority of voters in the North voted to remain within the EU. The DUP and the British government continue to disrespect that democratic vote.

“Sinn Féin has consistently campaigned for the North to be designated a special status within the EU in order to ensure there is no hard border and that communities and businesses, especially along the border corridor, are protected. Our MEPS led this effort in the European Parliament. In Ireland, North and South and in Westminster we consistently pressed this proposal.  The draft withdrawal agreement, and in particular the backstop arrangement, if implemented would go some way to achieving this objective.

“However we should not lose sight of the fact that the current draft withdrawal agreement will not stop Brexit. The British Conservative Government remains committed to scrapping the Human Rights Act that is the foundation stone on which the equality and human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement are based. Moreover, the British Prime Minister repeated her intention in recent days to end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice and the Common Agricultural Policy.

“The reality is that the agreement reached between the EU and the British can only moderate some of the worst aspects of Brexit. As one of the four remain parties in the north, which represent the majority view, Sinn Féin is determined to ensure that our economy, communities, the rights of citizens and the Good Friday Agreement are protected.”

Adams urges Irish America Trade Union support for referendum on Unity

Gerry with Terry O’Sullivan President LiUNA & Thomas Callahan President IUOE

Sinn Féin Louth TD and former Party Leader Gerry Adams has just returned from New York where he spoke at a packed meeting of Trade Union leaders organised by the James Connolly Labor Coalition. On Friday evening he was the main speaker at the eighth annual Irish Echo Labor Awards.

Gerry Adams addressed both events on the issues of Brexit and Irish Unity.

Gerry Adams said:

“Brexit presents the most serious social, economic and political threat to the people of the island of Ireland for a generation. The British Conservative government, supported by the Democratic Unionist Party, is determined to drag the North out of the EU.

The current uncertainty around the negotiations between the London government and the EU is adding to an atmosphere of uncertainty and concern. In particular, there are very real dangers posed the imposition of any border checks. There are tens of thousands of jobs at risk in the two economies on the island of Ireland.

The Irish government has a responsibility to defend the democratic vote of the people of the north to remain within the EU and to ensure that the Good Friday Agreement is protected. Whatever the outcome of the current negotiations the rights and entitlements of the people of the North, as envisioned in the Good Friday Agreement, must be protected.”

The Louth TD also urged Irish American trade unionists to add their support to the growing call for a referendum on Irish unity. Mr. Adams said:

“The issue of a unity referendum and the goal of a united Ireland is now a matter of almost daily conversation. Our task as united Irelanders is to achieve these objectives in the shortest possible time with the maximum level of popular support. And we will achieve this sooner with the help and support of Irish America.

The vast majority of people in Ireland and in the Irish diaspora scattered across the globe want a society in Ireland that is based on values of social justice, fairness, equality and decency. This can best be achieved in a new and shared Ireland.”

Finally, Gerry Adams TD commended the initiative by a coalition of Irish American organisations for the McGuinness Principles. Mr. Adams said: “These principles are about implementing the Good Friday Agreement. They are for a Bill of Rights; equality for the Irish language; justice for the victims of conflict and their families; and support for a referendum on Irish unity.

They are modelled on the very successful MacBride Principles campaign against job discrimination. The success of that campaign shows the potential for Irish America achieving the same positive outcome with the McGuinness Principles.”

Ó Murchú: Brexit Breakfast, Useful Info for Local Businesses

Vincent Power (L) and Thomas McEvoy (R) with Cllr Ruairi Ó Murchú

Louth Sinn Féin councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú attended the recent business themed Brexit briefing hosted by Louth Local Enterprise Office (LEO) and the Strategic Banking Corporation of Ireland in the Ballymascanlon Hotel on Thursday last.

Councillor Ó Murchú said;

“The SCBI / LEO breakfast was certainly more impressive than recent commentary from Boris Johnson and others in relation to the entire Brexit debacle.

“This event, which had presentations by the SCBI, Enterprise Ireland, InterTrade Ireland and the LEO was designed to inform local businesses of the range of supports and finance that are available to business for Brexit proofing.”

Cllr Ó Murchú advised that “there 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.

The SCBI Brexit Loan Scheme offers amounts of between €25,000 to €1.5m, loan terms ranging from 1 year to 3 years and unsecured loans up to €500,000. All information relating to these schemes are to be found on each organisation’s website.

“The LEO contribution by Thomas McEvoy was a comprehensive list of the many services available to companies in relation to planning, marketing, their online platforms etc. and didn’t just relate to Brexit.

“For information on the all these services go to localenterprise.ie/louth.

“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 from the Local Enterprise Office.”

This event was attended by representatives of many local businesses both SMEs and larger companies.

“Their attendance is proof of the levels of concern among the business community regarding the negative effects Brexit could have on their ability to trade competitively.

“Sinn Féin has consistently said that Brexit will be bad for Ireland, north and south, in economic, political, social and cultural terms. I believe that the Irish Government must ensure the backstop agreement is enacted in the event of a no deal Brexit.

“Dr Vincent Power, the highly entertaining keynote speaker told of the spectrum of Brexit in relation to the multiple facets of the economy and society and its impact upon them. Brexit in relation to people and goods being different to Brexit in relation to services and that’s not to speak of medicines and aviation etc. He explained the Customs Union and Single Market as being maintained by a hermetical seal along EU borders which are a lot less porous than ours. He stated that any Brexit deal likely to be done would be a ‘skinny deal’ and a perpetual state of negotiations between Britain and the EU.

“Following my question on how he foresaw the Irish border post Brexit. He couldn’t see anything other than a ‘Hong Kong’ type solution and a border in the Irish sea. Anything else would have definite ramifications for border communities and businesses.

“This solution sounds to me like special designated status for the 6 counties, which would allow it to stay within the EU and maintain the necessary alignments between North and South.

“This was a useful event and I commend the staff of Louth LEO for convening this information briefing.”