Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has criticised the Irish government’s failure to ensure the European Council adopted a strong position on defending Irish interests in its text on Brexit, comparing it to the resolution in the European Parliament which was adopted today, Wednesday.
Speaking from Strasbourg Carthy said:
“Last week we saw that the Irish government totally failed to ensure that Irish interests were defended in the position adopted by the Council, which contrasted sharply with the Council’s position on Gibraltar which was clearly inserted on the insistence of the Spanish government.
“The Spanish government ensured that Spain now essentially has a veto in Brexit negotiations over the question of Gibraltar, but the Irish government failed to secure a similar position over the question of the north of Ireland.
“But beyond this aspect, the Council text on the impact of Brexit on Ireland is significantly weaker than the resolution the European Parliament adopted, again reflecting the failure of the Irish government to stand up to defend our interests.
“The European Parliament’s draft resolution, while far from perfect, acknowledges that a majority of people in the North voted to remain and it explicitly states that the positions and interests of Ireland need to be represented in negotiations acknowledging that we will be especially impacted.
“It expresses special concern about the impact of Brexit on the North, and it demands that the Good Friday Agreement is protected “in all its parts’.
Most importantly it recognises the ‘special circumstances’ confronting Ireland and calls on EU negotiators to ensure that there is no hardening of the border.
“Written as it was by groups with whom we have fundamental disagreements with regarding the current and future direction of the EU we in Sinn Féin consider the parliament’s report to be a succesful vindication of the dialogue which we and other Irish MEPs gave been engaged with since last Summer’s Brexit vote result.
“The Council draft position on the other hand is far weaker, stating that continuing to support the peace process ‘will remain of paramount importance’ and that the ‘aim’ of avoiding a hard border will require imaginative solutions.
“The European Parliament’s resolution is far superior on the question of Ireland than the Council’s.
“The Irish Government has clearly failed its first big Brexit test. It now needs to step up to the plate and actually put up a fight.
“They need to defend our interests in the Council and they need to do it immediately.
“Meanwhile my appeal to the European institutions is to not allow the people of Ireland to suffer the consequences of our government’s failures to, thus far, defend the interests of our country, North and South.”