Fianna Fáil’s Martin calls for special status for The North

Posted By: November 25, 2016

Fianna Fáil’s Martin calls for special status for The North

Claire Simpson. Irish News (Belfast). Friday, November 25, 2016
fianna-fail-martinFianna FÃIL Leader Micheal Martin. Picture by Julien Behal, Press Association

THE north must have a special status after Brexit, Michéal Martin told a Belfast audience last night.

In a wide-ranging speech at Queen’s University the Fianna Fáil leader said since the north’s citizens have a right to Irish citizenship, once the UK leaves the European Union, Northern Ireland will have the largest concentration of EU citizens living outside the boundaries of the union.

“It is an absolute obligation on the EU to reflect this unique reality with a special status for Northern Ireland – and it is also an absolute obligation on the UK to reflect this unique reality,” he said.

Mr Martin said submissions made the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) during a recent High Court case in Belfast acknowledged that the north will “have institutions which ‘assume but do not require’ membership of the EU, which are required to act in compatibility with EU law and are tasked with coordinating with Dublin on relations with the EU”.

He said people in the north, where a majority voted to remain in the union, should not be forced to choose between UK and EU citizenship. He added that since the north only accounts for three percent of the UK population, “special status for Northern Ireland would not undermine the core negotiating objectives of either London or Brussels”.

The Cork TD described the referendum result as “one of the biggest mistakes of a modern European democracy” and said there was no evidence that the British government has “a credible plan for what happens next”.

He said ministers had frequently made contradictory comments about whether there would be access to the single market, post-Brexit, and the role of devolved administrations including Stormont.