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Question: Do you want Brexit to happen?

While most candidates don’t want Brexit to happen, they are prepared to negotiate strongly on Ireland’s behalf.

In our audit of the Dublin European election candidates, we asked candidates to answer questions on nine of the most pressing issues facing Ireland and Europe in the coming years. 

Do you want Brexit to happen? Should Ireland make concessions on the backstop?

Clare Daly 

What I want doesn’t really matter – it’s going to happen regardless of my views. It would be crazy for Ireland to make concessions on the backstop at this stage – and in any case, I don’t think concessions are possible. The backstop will only work if it’s all or nothing

Mark Mullen

mark mullan for europe

I would prefer the UK to remain in Europe, given all the chaos that Brexit has caused. It’s important that if the British people decide that they want to leave Europe, the EU must behave fairly towards the UK its government in the negotiation process.

There is no benefit for Ireland or the EU to punish them, given the interdependence between the economies. Punishing the UK would be divisive and provide ammunition to those political actors to isolate the UK from Europe. The door must always be open for the UK to return to the EU, if they chose to do so in the future.

Barry Andrews

Most assuredly, I do not want Brexit to happen. I agree with former President McAleese’s characterisation of Brexit as belonging in a line of historically significant mistakes alongside the plantation of Ulster and partition. However, I respect the result of the referendum.

It is in Ireland’s interests to secure the least damaging Brexit possible and to give the UK more time and space to decide a route forward, including additional extensions if necessary or a revocation of Article 50.

It is crucial that the UK’s decision to leave the EU does not impact on the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement. Any agreement on its withdrawal must uphold in full all elements of that Agreement.

Ciarán Cuffe

Source: Claire Behan

I said I don’t want this to happen. I want the UK to stay in Europe. If it doesn’t, we really need to protect the most vulnerable and certainly the people of Northern Ireland are in a tough position. I don’t think we should change the backstop. I think that will ensure that the people of Northern Ireland are protected and I would be very wary of anything changing that.

Rita Harrold 

In Brexit, the Tories and EU represent different business interests. None of them, nor the Irish government, represent the interests of working class people who can be adversely affected by this process. Therefore it’s crucial that workers across Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales must link up to act together to defend the jobs, pay and conditions of all workers, migrant rights and food and environmental standards.

It is also essential to oppose any hardening of borders, North/South or East/West; as either can be used to increase tensions and sectarianism. We oppose sectarianism and believe active workers unity, organised through the trade union movement, is the way to ensure there is no going back to the Troubles and sectarian conflict.

The EU pushes neo-liberal capitalism, continuing to force Ireland to pay billions to bail out the European banking system, starving essential public services here of much-needed funds. In contrast, I stand for solidarity amongst the working class and oppressed across borders and for a socialist Ireland and a socialist Europe. The racist fortress Europe policies which have left migrants to drown in the Mediterranean must be challenged with international solidarity.

Alice Mary Higgins 

I don’t want Brexit to happen, though it is of course a decision for the UK. The situation is still uncertain but I would like to see a new referendum take place and, given that opportunity, I believe that UK citizens may well choose not to leave the European Union.

Brexit has highlighted for Irish people the many important threads of education, employment, economy and friendship that connect each of us to a wider Europe. Of course, we also share social, historical and family ties with the UK. It is our closest economic partner and we would have a stronger, more secure and more prosperous Union if it remained in Europe.

However, we need to remain clear and consistent about the backstop. The backstop is an insurance policy, hopefully never needed but providing an essential guarantee. It ensures that, no matter what happens in the next stage of negotiations, the Good Friday Agreement and sustained peace on our island will not and cannot become a casualty of the UK’s decision to leave. Avoiding a hard border and keeping regulatory alignment is crucial.

We should also remember the human rights commitments under the Good Friday Agreement.

Gary Gannon

No, I do not. I think the European Union, while it undoubtedly has its flaws, is the best and in many ways the only vehicle for us to collectively tackle major global challenges like climate change, the future of work, to aid and support those fleeing famine and war, and so on, together at a European level. These issues affect Britain and I think Britain has a part to play and should have a say in these discussions.

It is also now clear that the referendum debate was conducted in a manner that was deceitful and misleading, and that the impacts of Brexit will be most harmful for those same workers that the Leave campaign claimed to be defending. However, it is a matter for Britain and a decision for Britain.

I am also aware that Britain, particularly under Tory governments, have been a block in previous European Parliaments for real progressive change in areas such as workers rights and environmental protections. If Britain do leave, I think it should serve as a wake up call, and also a real opportunity to press on with delivering the kind of progressive change that European citizens need, towards the creation of a truly Social Europe.

Ireland should absolutely not make any concessions on the backstop. It is a necessary protection for the Good Friday Agreement and for Irish interests. Its necessity has been made eminently clear since it was initially agreed, by the bad faith with which the Tory Government have conducted the negotiations in. They cannot be trusted to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

Alex White 

No – Brexit will be damaging to Ireland, the UK and Europe.  Given the lies and misinformation during the 2016 UK referendum and the fact that the reality for the UK of a deal is now apparent I earnestly hope there will be a second ‘people’s vote’ in the UK, which would include the option of the UK remaining in Europe.

However, if Brexit is to go ahead the backstop must be retained.  It prevents the imposition of a hard border in Ireland and the backstop is critical to the peace process, trade and community relations.

Frances Fitzgerald 

The backstop will be crucial to safeguarding the invisible Irish border and ensuring the peace process in Northern Ireland. Given that the withdrawal agreement has been finalised and is not open for renegotiation, there is no potential to make concessions on the backstop.

If elected, my immediate priority will be to ensure that Ireland’s perspectives, including the essential nature of the backstop, are understood by all MEPs when the European Parliament is ratifying the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

Lynn Boylan

I am totally opposed to Brexit. It will be a disaster for Ireland.  The reality is that the backstop is the absolute minimum that needs to be delivered and the failure to stand by it could have serious consequences for Ireland, politically and economically.

For the last five years myself and the Sinn Féin team in the EU have stood up for the Good Friday Agreement and for Irish interests in the face of the Tory Brexit agenda.

We were first to pursue the idea of Special Designated Status for the north of Ireland within Europe – a policy which has now been widely accepted. We met with MEPs from all groups regularly to ensure Ireland stayed at the top of the agenda.

We published proposals for a Brexit stabilisation fund, legal opinion in relation to protecting Irish citizens rights in the context of Brexit and a host of other things. We believe that all of Ireland should stay in EU but we also believe that there needs to be radical reform at the heart of Europe.

Mark Durkan

No, I don’t want Brexit to happen which is why I opposed it and campaigned against it both within Westminster and during the referendum in the North. The backstop is about next stage insurance.

It is not the end state we want. I want to make sure that the answers beyond Brexit protect and promote the workings of the Good Friday Agreement for everybody and every sector on the island.

About the author:

Kathleen McNamee

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