Martina Anderson was co-opted in 2012 to replace Bairbre de Brún as Sinn Féin’s MEP For Northern Ireland after serving as an MLA for the Foyle constituency. She retained her seat in the European Parliament in 2014.
We are aware of the failings of the EU. Our primary concerns include the unaccountability of the European institutions and the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU. Deep concerns remain over recent financial developments that restrict the sovereignty of nations, and the humanitarian crisis at Europe’s borders continues with no obvious humanitarian focus or drive to resolve it at an EU level. We critically engage with the EU, supporting what is right and good for Ireland whilst calling out short-comings wherever we find them.
On the balance, however, a vote to leave the EU would be detrimental to not only the North, but the island as a whole.
A vote to leave the EU would copper-fasten partition. It would make both physical and fiscal trade across the border measurably harder. The strides we have taken towards all-Ireland cooperation and mitigating the worst excess of partition could be undone. We, in the north, would be ever more shackled to a Britain with a hostile, hawkish government – a peripheral region of a peripheral state on the periphery of Europe. Our small and medium enterprises would find themselves removed from the common market, our farming community would find themselves without EU subsidies, EU infrastructure projects would be a thing of the past and our community voluntary sector would find itself without European support.
Martina Anderson Speaks Against Brexit in the European Parliament
The seriousness of this cannot be overstated and we in Sinn Féin have absolutely no confidence whatsoever in the British government replacing funds and support lost to the North in the case of a Brexit. In fact, when pushed repeatedly on it in public, British government representatives flatly refuse to give such a commitment.
PEACE funding alone represents a unique form of support for the Irish Peace Process. This committed EU fund helped promote and enhance our fledgling Peace Process by supporting tens of thousands of peace building and reconciliation projects and initiatives. PEACE funding has been running since 1995 and is now in its fourth incarnation, which focuses on children and young people.
EU membership provides more than funding streams. It provides our young people the right to study in Europe — as a student you can study at any EU university. Furthermore, 5,200 students cross the border every day to work or study. In the case of a Brexit this would be severely impacted, in terms of fees, accommodation and the right to live.
The EU has also guaranteed consumers’ rights to compensation and refunds. With online shopping becoming increasingly popular, EU consumer rights are now something that all of us need. The European Consumer Centre handles cross-border EU consumer problems and EU consumer rights also include the right to cancel purchase of non-faulty goods within seven days.
EU membership has also guaranteed access to paid annual holidays, improved health and safety protection, rights to parental leave, rights to time off work for urgent family reasons, equal treatment rights for part-time, fixed-term and agency workers and rights for outsourced workers.
Belfast Conference Told BREXIT Would Be Disastrous for Ireland
In the case of a Brexit, how would the 18,000 people who cross the border to work be impacted? Mixed messages have been sent from both camps in Britain over the future of the border – could Brexit amount to a ‘back to the future’ for border areas, with customs checks, border fences and border checkpoints? After all it would be an ‘external border of the EU’!
So on June 23rd, the decision voters in the 6 counties will be faced with will be to remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union? Despite its failings, the European Union can only be changed or held to account from within – and not outside. In order to deliver reform of the EU and ensure the protection of our island, we need to remain.