Politicians in the North West have reacted with dismay at Britain’s decision to exit the European Union.
News of the shock vote in favour of leaving the EU came through early on Friday morning last and immediately led to sharp falls on the stock exchange and to the price of Sterling falling to its lowest in over a decade.
The impact Britain’s leaving would have on Ireland was also a topic of heated debate. Sligo independent MEP Marian Harkin said that Ireland is entitled to and should receive special treatment.
She said that the exit vote “poses a significant challenge to the Irish government and to the European Project”.
She called for the government to immediately assess the result and take steps to reassure citizens and Irish business by engaging immediately with the British government on matters of common interest.
“This result is a reflection of the failure of the EU to convince the citizens of the UK that they benefit from EU membership but it also reflects voter disenchantment with the main political parties.
“The vote to leave poses a major challenge to Ireland’s economy as it emerges from the trauma of recent years and the EU owes Ireland special consideration in any conditions governing the exit of the UK,” she said.
In particular there could be no change to the free movement of people within Ireland and no reinstatement of border, controls which would adversely affect economies on both sides of the border, Marian Harkin stressed.
They were sentiments echoed by Sligo TD Marc MacSharry. He said “As a country sharing the only land border with the UK, there’s potential for serious economic harm to come to our country.”
He called on the government to establish an Oireachtas Committee to look at ideas for positive reform to pursue within the European Union.
He also wants all parties to work together “to build a consensus on reform recommendations within the EU, the Eurozone and our relationship with the North.
“In the age of new politics and the Government’s minority position, it’s important that there is a consensus on our national position as to how we would like the European Union to look moving into the future.”
And the Fianna Fail deputy gave the example of the banking inquiry – of which he was a committee member – as an example of what can be achieved through a cross-party approach.
Meanwhile, North West Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy has echoed his party’s call to hold a United Ireland referendum, to allow Northern Ireland to remain part of the EU with Ireland.
Mr Carthy has said that Britain’s decision to leave the European Union means that a referendum on a United Ireland is now vital.
“The British Government has no mandate to drag the north of Ireland out of the EU.
It has no mandate to re-erect border controls between north and south,” said Carthy.
“Irish interests are being actively and gravely damaged by the decisions taken in England. The north of Ireland has voted to remain in the EU.
The British Government cannot now negotiate on behalf of people there to exit the European Union.
“A referendum on a United Ireland is now a democratic imperative and it is incumbent that the Irish Government and all Irish nationalist parties support this demand.”