MEPs visit NW to hear Brexit concerns

MEPs from across Europe on the Peace Bridge in Derry. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)
MEPs from across Europe on the Peace Bridge in Derry. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has hosted a delegation of elected representatives from across Europe to the North West region of Ireland.

The group visited Derry and the wider region over recent days as part of a GUE/NGL initiative, to meet and engage with key stakeholders and the community to hear the concerns around Brexit.

The MEPs with Mayor Michaela Boyle and council executives. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

The MEPs with Mayor Michaela Boyle and council executives. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

The representatives in attendance were Pernando Barrena MEP- EH Bildu, Basque Country, Kateřina Konečná MEP- Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy, Czech Republic, Marc Botenga MEP – Parti du Travail de Belgique / Partij van de Arbeid van België Belgium, Niyazi Kizilyirek MEP- AKEL Cyprus and former Foreign Affairs Minister George Katrougulos MP of the Hellenic Parliament- Syriza, Greece.

During their visit the group held various different meetings, including with representatives from both Derry City & Strabane District Council and Donegal County Council.

They also visited the Bogside and Free Derry Corner, as well as walking through the city centre and over the Peace Bridge and on to the border at Lifford/ Strabane.

The group attended a public meeting in the Guildhall on Friday last to hear the views of local people over Brexit and Irish reunification.

The delegation at Strabane Lifford Border BCAB protest. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

The delegation at Strabane Lifford Border BCAB protest. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Speaking afterwards, Martina Anderson MEP said: “This important visit afforded the opportunity for many engagements that allowed the visiting representatives to get a real sense of the damage that Brexit will do to the North West Region.

“Speaking to both chief executives of the Derry City and Strabane District Council and the Donegal County Council, the delegates were given an insight into the unique cross border working relationship and how any form of Brexit could impact on this. Representatives from the business sector and the community and voluntary sector had the opportunity to meet with the MEPs and put across how vital EU funding has been for them, and how the loss of it will hit Derry hard. All spoke about no hardening of the border and protecting the Good Friday Agreement.

“Whilst on the border at Strabane/Lifford, it was clear to see through a demonstration by Border Communities against Brexit (BCAB) that there can be no hardening of the border in Ireland. All agree that there is no good Brexit for the North.”

Ms Anderson praised all those who attended public meeting in the Guildhall, which was organised to give people the opportunity to hear from speakers and MEPs “who will be fighting our corner in Europe”.

The delegation at Museum of Free Derry. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

The delegation at Museum of Free Derry. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

Discussions centred on the need to plan and prepare for constitutional change in Ireland, she said. “On behalf of the people of Derry and Donegal I thank the representatives for coming to the North West and I want to take this opportunity to thank all who engaged and who are rejecting Brexit in all of its parts,” Ms Anderson said.

The delegation at Free Derry Corner. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)

The delegation at Free Derry Corner. (Photo - Tom Heaney, nwpresspics)