Nessa Childers, MEP for Dublin, stressed the importance of Ireland’s interests and those of EU citizens in the European Parliament’s position on the upcoming negotiations over the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.
Speaking from Strasbourg on foot of Parliament’s adoption of its guidelines to the negotiation today, Ms. Childers said:
“Getting overwhelming agreement on common position among elected representatives of all citizens across the Union, today, was no mean task.
“We want a fair and amicable approach to what is our first ever departing member, and to reconcile this with the problems and dangers this separation poses to individual Member States and the Union as a whole.
“I was in close contact with the leadership of my political grouping in Parliament, as likewise did my Irish MEP colleagues, so that the unique position which the island of Ireland finds itself in was reflected in the concerns the House expressed as a whole.
“Parliament’s resolution expresses special concern about it, with a crucial need to safeguard peace and the preservation of the Good Friday Agreement, which has been anchored on the EU’s involvement and active support.
“It insists on the absolute need to ensure the continuity and stability of the peace process, that a hardening of the border must be avoided by all possible means.
“We note that a large number of citizens in the UK expressed a different wish for the future of the UK and its ties to the rest of Europe, including a majority in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
“We believe it would have been in the best interests of all citizens to keep relations as close as possible, and borders as open as possible, provided we respected the rights, obligations and caveats that applied to free movement in the EU, which were overlooked in the claims of the hardest advocates of Brexit.
“Countless families, including my own, have members on both sides of these islands, who have watched this past year’s developments in fear of getting caught in the middle, against man-made barriers to nationality.
“The degradation of public discourse over matters such as Gibraltar, or the administrative obstacles now faced by EU citizens seeking to see their status as residents recognised are extremely worrisome, and should remind us of why European nations saw it fit to come together at the same table in the first place.
“For the sake of all the citizens who have so far availed of their present rights in good faith, we should expedite solutions that will safeguard their enjoyment.”