We need an Irish solution to the Brexit problem, says SDLP leader at the graveside of ‘the great Parnell’

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood used the annual ‘Ivy Day’ commemoration of Charles Stewart Parnell in Dublin on Sunday to call for a more hands-on approach by Irish political leaders when it comes to the Brexit negotiations.

Calling for an ‘Irish solution to the Brexit problem’ at Parnell’s graveside in Glasnevin cemetery, Mr. Eastwood insisted the Irish government force the border issue at Brussels.

“Up to this point I have understood the tactic of the Irish Government to go along with the European Commission and in effect ‘smoke out’ the British Government’s position on the Irish border issue,” he said.

“However, as the Brexit negotiations move from rhetoric to reality and from mantra to actual meaning, I believe it is now time our position strengthened substantially. We cannot leave it to the British Government alone to come up with the solution to the Irish border question.

“We can’t vest our confidence in lip service from a London government who clearly do not understand the dimensions or delicacy of relationships on this island. If we continue placing the responsibility on the British Government rather than on ourselves, I fear history will come to judge that strategy as having been deeply complacent.

“Instead we must propose, build and implement an Irish solution to the Brexit problem,” he added.

Mr. Eastwood said any form of a hardened border would not be tolerated.

“At the heart of that solution is the understanding that there can never again be a border established across this island against our will. It also means using the solutions which we have already endorsed. The Good Friday Agreement was always intended to be a living document,” he said.