Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has pulled on the ‘green jersey’ to call for Irish reunification if the North crashes out of Europe in six weeks.
Specifically, it was the No 11 shirt worn by James McClean when Ireland beat Gibraltar 2-0 in the Euro qualifiers in June.
“My Irish passport says that it is the entitlement and birth right of everyone born on the island of Ireland to be part of the Irish nation,” she told MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday morning.
“Whilst the backstop is essential to prevent a hardening of the border partition in Ireland to protect the all-Ireland economy and North-South cooperation, it takes us out of the EU against our will. We in the north of Ireland voted to remain,” she added.
She was speaking to a resolution that recognised the importance of the ‘backstop’ and that stressed a ‘no deal’ crash out would be “entirely the responsibility of the UK Government”.
Ms. Anderson said there was a workable alternative to the ‘backstop’:’Irish unity.
“The European Council statement stated that in the event of Irish reunification all 32 counties would remain in the EU. French President Macron stated that the solution to the Brexit problem is Irish reunification. Lord Ashcroft’s opinion poll, like others, shows a majority in favour of Irish reunification. The Good Friday Agreement provides a peaceful, democratic pathway back into the EU for the people of the north of Ireland and that should be respected by all,” she said.
Alliance MEP Naomi Long, speaking during the same debate, said: “There can be no good or sensible Brexit, but a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be catastrophic in NI. Ignore those who say that ‘no deal’ is no problem. Listen to those who live and work across the border. They know differently.”
DUP MEP Diane Dodds said her party would support a deal but not the ‘backstop’.
“The agreement must also meet basic democratic tests. The backstop endangers these fundamental principles. This House has confirmed on a number of occasions its adherence to the Belfast Agreement. Indeed it was referenced this morning by President Juncker and Mr Barnier. One of the core principles of that agreement is parity of esteem between the two traditions in NI, meaning that citizens from both the Unionist and nationalist traditions are treated and heard equally.”
Ms. Anderson’s European United Left/Nordic Green Left colleague, the Independents 4 Change MEP Clare Daly, said: “It’s all so easy to pretend, as many people have here, that Brexit is all about the crazy Brits.
If Brexit is about anything, it’s about the failure of the neoliberal ideology entrenched in EU institutions, thanks to Lisbon and Nice, and, ironically, also entrenched in the ideology of the ruling classes in Britain.”
But she too said a border had to be avoided.
“While I don’t care about the establishment in Britain cannibalising itself, the people on the island of Ireland have to live our lives and we cannot have a hard border. We have to have our human rights respected and not sacrificed,” she