Monday, December 19, 2016

New Brexit report on Ireland asks crucial questions – Derry bishop

A House of Lords report that has recommended that questions of freedom of movement across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic has been welcomed by Derry’s Bishop Donal McKeown.

“It’s certainly very encouraging for us here to discover that there are people in significant positions who are concerned about the effect that Brexit might have specifically on Ireland and Northern Ireland as political entities, and on relationships within the island,” Dr McKeown told The Irish Catholic.

Describing himself as “glad” that the report had addressed the effects of Brexit on Ireland’s economies and on the Peace Process, Dr McKeown said, “It is important that those questions are faced honestly,” adding, “Whether what the report raises is possible is another question, but at least I am glad that the questions are being asked. There’s a real concern here about the way forward.”

Detrimental

The report, the first of six reports from Britain’s House of Lords on the possible effects of Brexit, was launched in London and Dublin on Monday, December 12. 

Warning that the departure of Britain from the EU could be even more detrimental to Ireland than for Britain, the report called on the EU to allow the British and Irish governments to find a unique solution to the problems Brexit would cause across Ireland.

“Obviously we’re concerned about the effects it could have on the Republic, we’re concerned about the effects it could have on the North, and we’re concerned about the effects it could have on Derry which could end up being a cul de sac if there’s a hard border,” Dr McKeown said, adding that it remained to be seen whether the reports proposals could be acceded to, as they would depend on the agreement of all 28 EU countries.

Negotiations

“It depends ultimately on what the negotiations throw up. They can raise the issue, but it might turn out not to be possible that Northern Ireland will have a particular relationship,” he said. “On the other hand,” he added, “it might be a real changing point in terms of where people in Northern Ireland see their future lying.”

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