‘No going back’ to status quo

Martina Anderson, pictured at her desk in the European Parliament.
Martina Anderson, pictured at her desk in the European Parliament.

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson said there will be no return to the status quo in the north after the election.

Ms Anderson was addressing concerns from some business figures about the lack of leadership in Northern Ireland during the crucial period ahead of Article 50 being triggered.

At a Brexit Business Breakfast event at An Culturlann on Friday, Ms Anderson told those gathered: “I share your frustration about what is happening in the Assembly and we all didn’t want to be where we are today, but we could not continue to tolerate not just that arrogance, but being absolutely railroaded by a party that wanted us back to a Protestant parliament for a Protestant people and those days are over, done with, gone and we are not and will not be going back to that.”

Ms Anderson claimed that the Brexit stance adopted by Arlene Foster and the DUP was “reckless”.

She said: “Whatever about what is going to happen in the Assembly, and you have seen the efforts that Martin McGuinness made to prevent us getting to where we are today- he could do no more, but had there been an opportunity of Arlene Foster doing the right thing and stepping aside, there is still two different distinct positions on Europe.

“She advocated to leave. Let’s not delude ourselves that there would have been some kind of arrangement between ourselves and the DUP on this because we were fundamentally in two different places.”

Ms Anderson said there were also major issues with the lack of engagement from Westminster. She said: “The British government, whilst they promised they were going to engage with the devolved administrations, at the last BIC [British Irish Council] meeting Teresa May and the three blind mice, her three Brexiteers, didn’t even have the good manners to turn up to the meeting.

“They are not, did not and were not engaging with, not just the Assembly or the Executive, Scotland is saying the same and Wales is saying the same.

“They were going off with an English-centred mentality and they were going and will be going off to ensure what happens in Europe is going to protect the financial interests of London.

“So we need to find a way of getting over their head and into Europe and that is where I feel the opportunity exists for people to engage with Europe because once Article 50 is triggered Europe is where the action is; Europe will be making the decisions about the form and shape of the Agreement that takes place.”

(For more on the event, see page 37.)