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.”
Cllr Antóin Watters
Sinn Féin Councillor Antóin Watters has called on the Government to commence specific research to identify the impact that Brexit will have in the border regions.
Cllr Watters said “In the Government’s ‘Action Plan on Rural Development’ it was proposed that specific research be done to identify the impact of Brexit on rural areas across the State but in particular, the border areas which will be impact most negatively of all.”
“Brexit is getting ever closer and we have MEPs like Guy Verhofstad visiting us from Belguim and a taskforce of MEPs from various countries trying to get an idea of the border area and trying to figure out the best way to proceed. Yet, this vital piece of research has yet to commence. MEPs from other countries are showing more interest than the Irish Government in the border areas.”
Cllr Watters said “We need to start this research without delay so we can have a clear understanding of what the impact will be and more importantly what contingency plans can be put in place to mitigate the consequences.”
For full details of our Alternative Budget 2018 please go to www.sinnfein.ie
Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has called on the Irish Government to ensure the rights of the Irish fishing industry are protected in the aftermath of Brexit.
Cllr Cunningham said Irish fishermen were in danger of becoming “the meat in the sandwich between the EU and Britain during any talks on Brexit.”
Cllr Cunningham who hails from the fishing village of Clogherhead said “Our government needs to make it absolutely clear to the EU negotiating team how important our fishing industry is to this island. You can be sure that the French, Dutch and other EU countries will do everything to protect their fishing industries and we must not be any different.”
At present, Ireland catches half its quota in British Waters. The London Convention of 1964 allowed Irish fishing vessels to fish in British waters before their entry into the EU. Britain has expressed that they are seeking to exit that agreement. After Brexit Ireland will have 30% of Europe’s viable fishing water and 40% of its fishing stocks yet Irish fishermen are restricted to landing just 5% or less of the overall catch putting tremendous pressure on the industry.
Cllrs Tom Cunningham & Imelda Munster TD at Clogherhead Harbour
Cllr Tom Cunningham asked “what will happen to the EU vessels that are currently fishing in British waters? They will be displaced and the obvious place for them to go to is Ireland’s waters. Stakeholders estimate Brexit will cause the loss of between 500-600 Irish vessels and as our industry is comprised of small fishing vessels, in real terms, that means thousands of families losing their primary source of income and the decimation of coastal communities right around Ireland.”
Cllr Cunningham called on the Irish Government to “demand that the non-Irish vessels that are displaced from British waters are not redirected into increasingly crowded Irish waters.”
The British decided in July of this year to withdraw from the London Convention of 1964, however, Cllr Cunningham said he would give a cautious welcome to “remarks from the British Minister Michael Gove in August on allowing EU vessels to use British waters post-Brexit” but warned “these comments will cause as much confusion as relief. The Irish fishing industry needs certainty, it needs to know what is coming down the line so they can make adequate preparations, they don’t need this flip-flop approach from the British Government. The onus is on the Irish Government to represent the fishing industry and fishing communities.”
Sinn Féin Councillor Tom Cunningham has urged fishermen to get involved in action against Brexit.
Councillor Cunningham was at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday discussing the decimation of the fishing industry in Ireland.
Cllr Cunningham said “The British Prime Minister triggered Article 50 so Britain will be out of Europe within two years. My main concern for Clogherhead is that the main fleet is prawn fishermen and their area is British waters which obviously will no longer be available to them after the two years are up.
“Not only that, but as the British waters will be longer available to them or indeed other fleets from other EU countries, where are they going to fish? In Irish waters obviously. We can not be made to bear the brunt of the displaced fleets from British waters. The government is already neglecting the fishing industry, I don’t have much faith that they will represent our interests in any arrangements being made under Brexit.”
Cllr Cunningham said “The fishing industry must get involved, along with the farmers because they are the two groups that are going to be the main losers in the whole Brexit fiasco. We can not allow these displaced fleets to transfer to Irish waters, our fishing industry would be finished as would our coastal communities as we know them.
“No-one knows the fishing industry better than the fishermen. Get involved, oppose Brexit, demand your rights and interests are protected. Don’t leave it to a neglectful government to do it for you because as we all know, they won’t.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has today said that the Irish government must commit to working meaningfully with all political parties and all stakeholders in the aftermath of the triggering of Article 50 and the formal beginning of the Brexit process today.
He said that ‘Brexit presents a very dangerous situation for Ireland, north and south, but that threat can be minimised and a special designated status for the north within the European Union can be secured, if all of us work together in pursuit of that goal’.
Today the British government will trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the process which will formalise their exit from the European Union.
Sinn Féin has called for special designated status for the north of Ireland to remain in the European Union. We have done so because it is in the interests of the Irish people; for farmers, for students, for small businesses, and Irish society; for human rights protections, environmental standards, for peace and reconciliation and for infrastructure.
56% of people in the north voted to Remain in the EU – that has to be respected.
Tomorrow, on Thursday March 30th, MEPs from across Europe will join with Martina Anderson MEP and Matt Carthy MEP at a public meeting to discuss the way forward. Louth Sinn Féin TD and Party President Gerry Adams will also address this meeting.
The meeting will take place on Thursday 30th March, in the Carrickdale Hotel, County Louth, at 7:30pm.
It will be an opportunity for you to voice your concerns to people who will have an influence on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations. You, and representatives of your organisation are most welcome.
No Border, No Barriers, No Brexit
Thursday March 30th
Carrickdale Hotel, Co. Louth