EU acknowledge ‘special circumstance’ of Ireland in Brexit debate

Sinn Féin MEPs Liadh Ní Riada, Lynn Boylan, Matt Carthy and Martina Anderson following EU resolution on Brexit.

Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has welcomed a vote in the EU Parliament that saw MEPs overwhelmingly endorse a resolution protecting the Good Friday Agreement in any Brexit negotiations.

The Ireland South MEP was speaking after 516 of the 699 MEPs present voted in favour of a resolution on Brexit negotiations with Britain which outlined the EU’s commitment to the Peace Process and opposition to a hard border.

The resolution reads that the EU “recognises the unique position and special circumstances confronting the island of Ireland” and is “especially concerned at the consequences” of Brexit for Ireland. It states that it “insists on the absolute need to ensure continuity and stability of the Peace Process” and it will “do everything possible to avoid a hardening of the border.”

“Any resolution from any stakeholder in the Brexit debacle that recognises the special circumstances Ireland is in and unambiguously voices its opposition to a hard border is to be welcomed,” she said.

“The EU have in the past shown themselves to be creative and flexible when it comes to settling these sorts of disputes between member states so there is certainly cause for hope here.

“This resolution is an extension of the EU’s previous commitments to Ireland and the Peace Process. In October the Parliament adopted proposals I put forward regarding the 2017 Budget and the Multi Annual Financial Framework which ensured the safeguarding of the Good Friday Agreement and made the issue of Ireland a priority in the Brexit discussions.

“These proposals were met with wide-ranging support from a broad swathe of MEPs from very different ideological backgrounds, showing that there is support for Ireland right across the Parliament and that nobody wants to see the return of borders to our island.

“What this resolution also does is highlight the intransigence of the British Government on this issue, who continue to insist that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and the utter ineffectiveness of the Irish Government who have yet to even row in wholeheartedly behind our call for the north the be granted special designated status within the EU.

“Just this week Spain was able to secure a veto over any Brexit deal regarding Gibraltar, hopefully that example and this show of support from the European Union for Ireland will shock the Irish Government into action and push them to finally stand up for all the people of Ireland in these negotiations.”