Speech made by Brendan Smith TD, Chair of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party at the Fermanagh/South Tyrone SDLP Meeting

Published on: 27 August 2019


Speaking at an SDLP event, the Chair of the Fianna Fáil Parliamentary Party Brendan Smith, T.D. said that the greater threat to democracy on this island is the possibility of a no deal Brexit and the return of any form of border.

Commenting on repeated claims from the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the backstop is undemocratic, Deputy Brendan Smith said “only someone who knew little or nothing about the Good Friday Agreement or the conduct of the Brexit campaign in Northern Ireland could make such an outlandish claim”.

“What the British Prime Minister fails to recognise is that there is neither democratic mandate nor cross community consensus for Brexit in Northern Ireland. What is undemocratic however, is overriding the democratic will of Northern Ireland voters to reject Brexit and dragging them out of an EU which has done so much to support peace and progress across Northern Ireland”, said Deputy Smith.

“The democratic wish of the people in Northern Ireland is reflected in the letter supporting the backstop sent by the majority of MLAs to Donald Tusk. The tragedy and scandal is that the Assembly is not up and running at this crucial time to speak for all the people of Northern Ireland and to allow all voices – both for and against – to be democratically and calmly aired. The DUP is acting and behaving like a one-party-state at Westminster and is being indulged by Boris Johnson… for now.”

“If the British Prime Minister is serious about addressing democratic deficits he would move speedily and substantively to get the Institutions of the Good Friday Agreement back up and running. The intransigence and political game-playing by the two main parties in Northern Ireland coupled with an indifference from the British government that often goes unchecked by the Irish government, is allowing the political vacuum to go on.”

“It is the people from both communities, living on either side of where the border once was who will pay the price for the hard Brexit concocted in the private members dining clubs in London. It is going to hurt small and medium businesses, the agri-food sector and local communities and turn back the twenty-five years of progress made since the cease-fires”, concluded Deputy Smith.

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