Who will say – “We shall not be removed” from Europe!
There is no political mandate to change the status of Northern Ireland by taking it out of the EU. So where are the calls for peaceful democratic resistance to defeat this ‘monstrous conspiracy?’ Exiting will take with it rights and standards, and cause economic and social upheaval. So why is no one shouting stop? Where is the outrage? The political parties are hopelessly divided on this issue, but where are the leaders of business and civic society as we steam slowly, steadily towards the iceberg?
A century ago Ulstermen resisted Home Rule with force because they were convinced in their consciences that it would be “disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our … freedom, destructive of our citizenship.” Brexit will be all that and a lot worse.
Half a century ago men and women across Northern Ireland came together in great numbers to demand fundamental rights and respect for the free votes of citizens. Despite all that has happened since, we must recognise that their peaceful democratic resistance worked and they put an end to a great wrong. Where is that peaceful resistance now?
Every effort to construct a UK economic case for Brexit has been roundly rubbished, but no one ever attempted to make such a case for Ireland and especially not for Northern Ireland. In our Reports & Analysis section we list all the significant research and analysis touching upon Ireland north or south and by any measure, all we can see ahead is devastation of businesses and communities. The prospect is well summed up in “Potential impact of WTO tariffs on cross-border trade”, published by Intertrade Ireland in June last year. [link – http://www.intertradeireland.com/researchandpublications/]
The value of the ‘Border Deal’ agreement of 8th December is extremely doubtful given its inherent contradictions, and indeed there are now strong signs that these could lead to collapse of the UK-EU negotiations [link – Irish Times https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/irish-border-issue-is-a-legitimate-threat-to-the-brexit-talks-1.3396521]
However, we all need to be very clear that the core issue is not the precise degree of damage Brexit will do, or whether it can be mitigated by some clever fudge formula. The simple, harsh reality is that Brexit is being imposed upon us against our will. Every single thing and aspect of this issue is contentious and divisive. Indeed it is has all the potential to shatter our hard won political progress and worse. Don’t take our word for it – the PSNI has warned of the danger of renewed violence https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jan/15/brexit-border-would-make-sitting-ducks-of-northern-ireland-police
Brexit may very well cost a lot more than money.
The position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom is itself both contentious and contested and has cost much blood, so the settlement of 1998 is precious. The principle of consent set out in the Good Friday Agreement prescribes that its status can only be changed by a majority vote. That principle was reinforced by a double-lock approval vote of 71% in Northern Ireland and 94% in the Republic. However, it is now proposed that this status should be changed by a vote of the Northern Ireland minority which voted for Brexit. The narrow UK majority vote cannot be binding upon us if the principle of consent is to have any meaning in the future.
Who will say before it is too late – the status of Northern Ireland must not be changed without our democratic consent? If it is, the principle of consent will be abandoned and all constitutional bets will be off, including putting a question mark over consent to remain within the UK. Like all such arrangements, terms and conditions apply. And Brexit will change them.
So where is the campaign that will say we will not leave the EU, and not be robbed of our democratic European inheritance.
Who will say NO! we shall not be removed from Europe?