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Peace process and Ireland’s trade links with UK will require special care in any future EU / UK deal

News item

Wednesday 29 Jun 2016

Speaking in Brussels at a debate in her political group the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Independent MEP Nessa Childers said that more than any other country Ireland has the most to lose from the Brexit vote.

“While it will be the job of the Irish government to set out clearly what policies Ireland needs to protect our interests, Ireland’s must cause stay firmly on the Socialists’ agenda. That the peace process and Ireland’s deep trade links with the UK will need to be protected.

Ms Childers added that more than any other country, Ireland has the most to lose from the Brexit vote. “We will have an EU frontier on our small island, introducing passport controls that could set back the peace process in Northern Ireland. Ireland also faces a 20% reduction in trade because Britain will be outside the EU.

“The Northern Ireland peace process benefited immensely from the participation of both the UK and the Republic of Ireland in the European project, which also included substantial financial assistance to a region where many communities faced systematic discrimination and serious material deprivation.

“Thanks to the peace process, the Common Travel Area between the UK and Ireland allowed us to normalise circulation across this land border of about 500 Kms, and between the UK and the Republic of Ireland whose history means that families, communities and our economies are inextricably connected.

“We cannot, and must not, underestimate the traumatic effects of a possible reinstatement of border controls between the Republic and Northern Ireland, and their impact on a very much tentative peace process, as well as to the Irish economy, as it recuperates from an unprecedented housing and banking fallout, and subsequent, austerity-led response.

“Jeopardising peace and prosperity would be too high a price to pay for a punitive response from the EU institutions towards the UK.

Ultimately we need to reform the EU, we need to listen to citizens’ concerns. Our first reaction should be to tackle the huge gap between ordinary workers and families and the institutions which make the decisions that affect their lives.

The S&D group held an extraordinary meeting Monday 27 June to prepare for a vote by MEPs on a resolution in response to the UK referendum results. Ms Childers voted against the resolution stating is was too fast a response and that Ireland’s particular situation needed careful consideration. The S&D group continued the UK Referendum debate at their meeting on 29th June 2016.