ONE week after Scotland tabled a new independence referendum bill as a ‘hard Brexit’ looms, the deputy first minister of Northern Ireland has said the nation should push for a special EU status.
Martin McGuinness has argued that Brexit will have a “devastating” impact on the Irish people and called for Dublin and Belfast to unite in opposition to Theresa May’s plans.
“As things sit at the moment we are going to suffer big time,” McGuinness said. “Theresa May says ‘Brexit means Brexit’, but so far as we are concerned Brexit means disaster for the people of Ireland” said the Sinn Fein leader, whose compatriots voted 56 per cent to 44 per cent to stay in the EU.
“There is a large amount of discontent, including within the unionist community, about how this Tory-led Westminster administration is being so cavalier in disregarding the impact of what they are planning,” McGuinness continued.
“There has to be an island of Ireland solution that we can live with, and it is critical that we have an Irish government fighting our corner, so the big challenge in the next few weeks is whether the government in the north and the south can come to a common position. We need to get our act together about what we want to see come out of these negotiations.”
“May says she is negotiating on behalf of the United Kingdom, but there is absolutely nothing united about a so-called United Kingdom. We don’t agree. We see our future in Europe. Scotland sees its future in Europe.”
His statement comes amid worries that a hard border will once again resurface between the north and south of the island, a symbolic rebuff of the hard fought peace process.
“Any removal from the customs union effectively means we are cut out of a market of 500 million people, yet half an hour down the road they will be able to trade freely with the EU. It would be a devastating blow,” McGuinness noted.