Brexit threat must be challenged – Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams today joined Councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú, Conor Murphy MLA, and Megan Fearon MLA and several other SF Councillors in a protest in Dundalk square against Brexit. In a piece of street theatre Boris Johnson was searched by customs officials.

Speaking afterward Gerry Adams urged the Irish government to take a tougher stance to ensure that the British government honour the backstop agreement on the customs union and the single market.

Gerry Adams said:

Last December the Irish people were told by the Taoiseach that the so-called backstop arrangement was a guarantee that there would be no hard border and that the interests of citizens in the north, the majority of whom voted against Brexit, would be protected.

We were told we had a cast-iron guarantee that there would be no hard border on our island.

We were told that this draft agreement would be converted into a legally binding text. It didn’t happen.

We were also told that the December agreement would be enshrined in a legal text and that the British had to produce firm proposals for today’s EU summit. It didn’t happen.

On May 17 following his meeting with Theresa May, the Taoiseach said that the British would table a new proposal on a future customs relationship within the following two weeks. It didn’t happen.

The Irish government should not allow the talks to proceed without agreement at the EU summit on the border and the backstop arrangement. However, I suspect they will.

Brexit presents a massive threat to our two economies and to the Good Friday Agreement. The Irish people need certainty on no hard border. That certainty can best be found if the north is given a special status that keeps it within the single market and customs union”.

Support Dundalk Brexit protest – Adams

Louth TD Gerry Adams is urging the people of north Louth and the border region to support next Thursday’s anti-Brexit protest in Dundalk.

The protest will take place in Dundalk square at 3pm on Thursday 28 June.

Gerry Adams TD said:

“Next Thursday the EU leaders will hold a critical summit which will be dominated by Brexit. Tension over Brexit has increased in recent days with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar accusing the British government of trying to stall progress in the Brexit negotiations and Michel Barnier, the EU chief negotiator warning that “serious divergences” remain on how to resolve the threat of a hard border and hard Brexit.

“Last December the Irish people were told that the so-called backstop arrangement was a guarantee that there would be no hard border and that the interests of citizens in the north, the majority of whom voted against Brexit, would be protected. We were also told that this agreement would be enshrined in a legal text in March and that the British had to produce firm proposals for the June summit. The Irish government said it wanted “sufficient progress” at next week’s summit.

“None of this has happened. Instead the British government has stalled and prevaricated and failed to produce realistic proposals.

“This is not acceptable. It is also dangerous. The backstop agreement must be written into any withdrawal treaty. The Irish government should be demanding real progress at next week’s summit.  The EU must put Ireland – all of Ireland – first and insist that the British present their proposals on time.

“The objective is clear. The north must remain within the Customs Union and the Single Market and the rights of citizens contained in the Good Friday Agreement must be protected. Next week’s EU summit must deliver significant progress. The onus for this falls on the Irish government. It cannot allow the current reckless negotiation process to continue.

“I would appeal to everyone concerned about the dangers posed by Brexit to join Thursday’s protest in Dundalk.

Brexit Should Not Cost Lives

L-R SF Cllrs Antóin Watters, Mickey Larkin, Roisin Mulgrew, Edel Corrigan & Pearse McGeough

The Cross Border Fire and Ambulance Services gave a presentation to Councillors and members of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) this week.

Sinn Féin councillors from Louth, Armagh and Down expressed concern that the current Memorandum of Understanding between Louth County Council (LCC) Fire & Rescue and NI Fire that has been in place since 2012 would be in jeopardy post Brexit.

Councillor Antóin Watters had raised the issue a few weeks ago following an accident on the main A1 dual carriageway just north of Dundalk. LCC Fire and Rescue were called to assist the Newry Fire Services following a car accident.

Sinn Fein councillor for the Slieve Gullion Area Mickey Larkin said “We need to ensure that this cross border co-operation continues after Brexit. We received a very valuable presentation from Joe Lumdsen for LCC Fire and rescue which related to Cross Border Emergency Planning.  He informed us that they have been mobilised to 31 incidents on both sides of the border since the Memorandum of Understanding started in 2012.”

Cllr Watters said “Let’s face it, people from the remote part of North Louth, like Omeath and Edentubber would get an ambulance much quicker from Newry than they would from Drogheda. People in these areas need to be able to rely on these vital cross border services. There is so much uncertainty around Brexit but this is one issue that we need confirmation and clarity on.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Edel Corrigan who is joint Chair of the MOU said “We must ensure that response times and access to both sides of the border is not affected. Brexit should not cost people’s lives and with all the uncertainty around the issue and the possibility of a hard border, we in Sinn Féin are calling on the Irish and British Governments to ensure this vital co-operation continues.”

MEPs & Anti-Brexit Border Group to meet with Louth County Council

L-R Emma Rogan MLA, Lynn Boylan MEP, Cllr Ruairí Ó Murchú and Martina Anderson MEP

“Brexit and its impact on the people of the border area must remain front and centre of political discourse both in Louth and in Europe” Dundalk councillor Ruairí Ó Murchú has said.

The Sinn Féin representative was speaking after making a proposal to invite MEPs and the Border Communities Against Brexit (BCAB) group to a special meeting of Louth County Council in the coming months. This future event was approved by members at the recent council meeting.

Council CEO Joan Martin advised it could take until September before schedules are fixed but Councillors pressed for it to take place in June, before the crunch EU Council meeting.

Cllr. Ó Murchú said, “At the council meeting, I stated that while welcoming the recent

Cllr Antoin Watters, Edel Corrigan, Megan Fearon MLA, Ruairí Ó Murchú and Anne Campbell at a recent BCAB event

event in DKIT, attended by EU negotiator Michel Barnier, this invitation to the MEPs and the BCAB, is about keeping the border issue and this area especially, front and centre of the Brexit discussion.

“We would like to see the meeting sooner rather than later but unfortunately, it is very likely that even if it did happen as late as September, the detail from the British government would still be lacking.

“While the EU Commission and Council deal with majority of the business end in relation to Brexit negotiations, there will be an EU parliamentary vote on the final deal. Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Michel Barnier have stated many times that detail is necessary in June from the British government in relation to the backstop or any alternative Brexit deal.

“Unfortunately negotiations are hampered as the Tory Party can’t agree amongst themselves. It is unacceptable for the people of County Louth and across Ireland to be pawns in these British political games.

“Theresa May’s new position of seeking an extra transition period that could extend until 2023 is unworkable. The north remaining aligned with EU customs regulations and procedures is to be welcomed, but needs to be permanent without the danger of any future border infrastructure.

“This uncertainty and the attempt at kicking the can down the road is offensive to the people of this area.

“We welcome the actions of BCAB taking their protest to the streets of London on Friday 1st June. University College London is hosting a conference, Introducing the Irish Border: Conflict, creativity & Customs posts. BCAB are taking part in the conference

Louth Cllrs Edel Corrigan, Tom Cunningham and Pearse McGeough with Imelda Munster TD at a recent BCAB event

and then at 10:30am assembling outside the university to show support for maintaining the north’s position within the EU.

“Apart from a United Ireland which makes economic sense, the only sensible solution is that the north remains within the Single Market and the Customs Union; in other words, Special Designated Status for the North.”

 

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”.