The speeches that got away: Any form of Brexit would damage Ireland, north and south

“With the benefit of historical hindsight we can all see things which we would wish had been done differently or not at all.”

With that carefully crafted phrase in Dublin in 2011 the Queen set the seal on the unprecedented rapprochement between the UK and Ireland embodied in the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) of 1998. In 30 years of violence over 3000 people perished, many of whom, to use one of the clumsy phrases from our hapless Prime Minister, “died in a ditch”.

A good friend of mine died in a ditch.

The GFA guaranteed Northern Ireland’s place in the UK unless its people by majority decide otherwise. The quid pro quo was absolute equality for all in the North and all-island co-operation to the maximum degree achievable without breaking that constitutional guarantee. This goes far beyond an open border for goods and people. The process is still going on as we speak.

Before David Cameron offered the people of the UK the unilateral right to leave the EU if a majority so wished, he did nothing to consult the government or people of Ireland. Is this not one of her Majesty’s “things we would wish had been done differently”?

And make no mistake – EU membership and the GFA are interlinked. One of the sections of the GFA speaks of “close co-operation between the countries as friendly neighbours and partners in the European Union.” A clause in the Northern Ireland Act 1998 implementing the GFA even outlaws any act or legislation by the Stormont Assembly which conflicts with any EU rule. So this talk of the GFA and EU membership being two separate issues is yet another of so many lies.

While the famous backstop is better than nothing and would be welcomed by virtually all businesses in Northern Ireland the truth is that any form of brexit would seriously damage Ireland North and South. That is one of the reasons why on reflection I support the motion before us now. We must constantly make it clear that

(1) revocation only comes if we win control in a general election and
(2) this is the only way to bring a rapid and clean end to this chaotic process.

Anything else has us locked in negotiations for years to come. Revoke and we are free as Guy Verhofstadt promised last night to work for reform and progress within the EU itself. We must also address the rank inequalities within the UK which are nothing to do with the EU but did much to fuel the leave vote.

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3 Comments

  • nigel hunter 25th Sep '19 - 2:15pm

    The report that Wrightbus is to go out of business,a forward looking bus company (electric buses) is to go out of business with the loss of jobs shows that Brexit in tooth and claw will not be good for both Irelands From these ashes a new bus company must arise before,yet again ,British companies and ideas go to benefit other countries
    The Alliance party should campaign to bring it back to benefit both Irelands.

  • The founder of Wright bus was a poster child for Brexit. Indeed Sir William said in 2016
    election.

    He has also spoken out in favour of Brexit, telling the Ballymena Guardian in 2016: “I am totally in favour of getting out. It is time to take back control of our own affairs.”Sir William was knighted in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to the economy and the bus industry

    https://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/national/17927006.sir-william-wright/

    Well Sir William what away to trash a life’s work. As the old saying goes “You reap what you sow”.

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