British Government Brexit Border proposals “absolutely unacceptable” – Matt Carthy MEP
Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, joined the chorus of outrage this week to the British government’s suggestion of developing customs posts along the border as part of its effort to replace the ‘backstop’. The Monaghan based representative described any such arrangements as “absolutely unacceptable”.
Speaking from Brussels on Tuesday the Monaghan based MEP said:
“This is a ludicrous proposition from the British Government that will be rejected by communities on both sides of the border. It vindicates those of us who argued that the issues pertaining to the border in Ireland needed to be addressed in the first part of the Brexit negotiations. While the British governments claimed that they could be trusted to protect the Good Friday Agreement this paper shows that, even at this late stage, they have either no understanding or no care for our peace process or the economy in any part of Ireland, including the north.
“It is incumbent on the EU and the Irish government to make it absolutely clear that any such proposal is absolutely out of the question. The partition of our country has been a disaster economically, socially and politically. It led to division and conflict and has stunted the potential of our entire country and especially the border region. The Good Friday Agreement and our joint membership of the EU single market were the twin ingredients that have allowed us to begin undoing some of the damage of partition over the past twenty-odd years. We cannot tolerate, from any quarter, the notion that there would be new controls on cross-border interactions.
“That is why it is also disconcerting to see reports that the Irish government may have invested in new customs vehicles for use in the border region”. (Photos circulating on social media this week showed a consignment of new customs vehicles arriving in Dundalk, Co. Louth).
Carthy said “To our community, having customs checks between Monaghan and Armagh is the equivalent of putting the same checks between Kerry and Cork. This approach would not be tolerated anywhere else and will not be tolerated by border communities.
“The Irish government must use all resources to avoid any hardening of the border in our country. That they appear to be investing in numerous customs vehicles without consulting with local communities is deeply worrying and will be unsettling to many.
“Now, is the time for all Irish political voices to remain steadfast in support of the backstop and in our determination to avoid any disruption to cross-border activity.
“What we need on this island, north and south, is to ensure there is no hard border, that our all-island economy is protected and that the Good Friday Agreement is protected.
“The British Government’s proposals published this week fly in the face of all of that, and it is a vexatious suggestion that mustn’t be given succour by Irish government actions.”
EU role in Irish Unity?
Matt Carthy also reported that he and his colleague Sinn Féin MEP, Martina Anderson, would next week host the launch of an independent legal and academic report detailing how the EU can assist in facilitating Irish Unity. The document will be launched in the European Parliament on Wednesday next the 9th of October.
Carthy said: “This report, authored by Professor Colin Harvey of Queen’s University Belfast and Barrister Mark Bassett is the first of its kind, and will explore how the EU can assist with the transition to Irish Unity, drawing on the assistance that the EU provided during the unification of Germany. People across the island of Ireland have already begun a series of calm and considered conversations about our futures.
“It is clear, that should the British government proceed with their reckless Brexit agenda without consideration for the special arrangements that are required to protect Ireland, that the debate on Irish Unity will advance swiftly. The provision for a poll on Irish Unity is a key component within the Good Friday Agreement and it will be seen by many in the north as a pathway back to European Union membership.
“So we need to start preparing for it now. This report will be an important contribution to the debate and I look forward to engaging with colleagues from across Europe to ensure that we make a success of the journey towards a United Ireland that we are undoubtedly on”.