Sinn Féin still wants ‘Brexit from Ireland’

Posted By: June 18, 2016

Deaglán de Bréadún. Irish News (Belfast). Saturday, June 18, 2016

SINN Féin is opposed to Brexit but still wants a British exit from the north, party leader Gerry Adams has told The Irish News.

Speaking at his office in Dundalk, the Dáíl deputy for Louth, right, said: “It’s not in Ireland’s interest, whatever we think about the European Union, to have one part in and one part out.

“I would like to think, as the debate heads towards referendum day, that Republicans would be motivated by that concern.”

Pointing to the level of trade between North and South and across the Irish Sea and the number of jobs at stake, he said that to have “a hard border as opposed to what’s currently a soft border” would be undesirable.

He stressed that his party still wanted to see the border removed entirely: “If you talk about a Brexit, Sinn Féin still wants a Brexit from Ireland.”

He dismissed the assertion by Secretary of State Theresa Villiers that border checks between the Republic and Northern Ireland would not be restored if the Brexit side won.

“Quite frankly, I don’t believe that,” he said.

He believed the British state would not leave the border open: “The frontier of the EU would be a few miles up the road from here.”

Asked if he believed border customs posts might reappear, he said: “All of those things are possible.”

Ahead of Thursday’s vote, he was reluctant to comment on the “hypothetical” possibility that these might become targets for dissidents.

In the event of a Brexit victory, Sinn Féin is calling for a border poll in both parts of the island.

“We want to see a border poll anyway,” Mr Adams said.

“If there’s a Brexit, then there’s a democratic imperative to have a border poll.”

Prior to the southern general election Sinn Féin signed up, with others, to the Right2Change manifesto.

Fianna Fáil says this means Mr Adams and his party are committed to a referendum on leaving the EU if the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) isn’t put to a vote of the Irish people.

“There should be a referendum on TTIP,” the SF president said.

But if this doesn’t take place, would Sinn Féin be calling for a referendum on Ireland’s EU membership?

“To tell you the truth, we haven’t discussed that,” he said.

He took part in a public meeting on Brexit organised recently by his party at a hotel close to the border, where the potential loss of EU funding for farming communities was highlighted.

But he said that, given the number of people from south Armagh, south Down and north Louth at the meeting, the key issue was the border.

“That’s the major reason for the position Sinn Féin have taken, because if you have one part of the island exiting from the European Union at the behest of a decision taken on another island, then that’s not in Ireland’s interest.”

In the plethora of referendums on European issues in the south, Sinn Féin consistently took the No side, but Mr Adams does not see any contradiction in that.

“I’m hugely critical about the democratic deficit, with the powers that the [European] Commission have, the lack of accountability. I don’t want to be living in a province of some EU superstate: we want to see a social European Union,” he said.