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.”