There is now an onus on the British government to lay the foundations for a poll on the border and the reunification of Ireland, Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson has said.
Derry’s representative at the European Parliament was speaking as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness warned that the vote for the UK to leave the European Union would have massive ramifications for the north of Ireland.
Speaking after the people in the north voted to remain in the EU by a majority of 56%, Ms Anderson said: “This referendum had nothing to do with the best interests of our people, our island or our economy.
“This was all about a narrow-minded Tory party and their internal ruptures.
“Therefore I am very proud of the 56% of the electorate who saw through this and voted in favour of remaining as a member of the EU.
“Unfortunately however, votes in England and Wales now mean the 440,707 people in the North who voted to Remain in the EU are being dragged unwillingly out of the EU. English votes have overturned the democratic will of the north.
“There is an onus on the British government to recognise the vote in the devolved administrations and there is an onus on them to provide answers for the several unanswered questions that the people of the north have.
“Sinn Féin will now be pushing for a border poll, a measure agreed upon in the Good Friday Agreement 18 years ago, to provide Irish citizens with the right to vote for an end to partition and to retain a role in the EU.”
Mr McGuinness said the decision “to drag us out of the European Union against our democratically expressed wishes” would be detrimental to everyone here.
He said; “The people of the north of Ireland, nationalists, republicans, unionists and others have made it clear at the polls that they wish to remain in the EU.
“The British government now need to take account of that and recognise that reality and allow the people of the north to have their say on their own future.
“Dragging us out of Europe will be to the detriment of all our citizens and will be bad for business, trade, investment, and wider society
“I, and all Sinn Féin ministers will work to ensure the political institutions remain on a stable footing but it is very difficult to put detailed contingencies in place until we know the extent of the impact of Brexit on our finances, our infrastructure and health services.
“All of that is still subject to a negotiation but the fact is that we are in unchartered waters.
“Sinn Féin will be seeking an urgent meeting with the Irish government, the European institutions and also with our counterparts in Scotland to discuss how we move forward in the best interests of all of our people.”