Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said the European Union must show solidarity with Ireland because of the difficulties it faces as a result of Brexit.
He said Ireland must remain a member of the EU, and called for a special status for Northern Ireland, which he said will have the biggest concentration of EU citizens outside the EU after Brexit, because of the citizenship clauses of the Good Friday Agreement.
He was also extremely critical of the stance being taken by the UK government in the current UK Supreme Court appeal over the role of the Westminster Parliament in triggering Article 50 – the process by which Britain will leave the EU.
Mr Martin said he believed Brexit “will be seen as one of the most self-damaging referendum results ever produced in a democracy. Damaging to Britain. Damaging to its neighbours. Damaging to the cause of free societies”.
Mr Martin said he wanted to be clear about where Fianna Fáil stood on the issue of EU membership, saying: “I and my party are absolutely clear on where we stand – we believe that rule-bound, independently-enforceable cooperation between nation states is the only means of securing high-living standards, peaceful relations and the ability to respond to the many challenges of globalisation.
“No other approach has ever come close in the scale of progress delivered for all sections of society.
“A Europe of competing nation states offers us nothing but a return to a cycle of destructive competition. For smaller nations it would be devastating.
“Because we oppose a race to the bottom and because we want a place at the table to influence our opportunities and international affairs we are absolutely committed to continued full, active and constructive membership of the European Union”.
Because of this Mr Martin argued that the EU should extend a special solidarity to Ireland during a period he likened to “a slow motion car crash”.
He said: “As a continuing member of the EU, Ireland has a right to expect a substantial demonstration of solidarity from the other post-Brexit members. We are faced with a profound threat because of the actions of another state on which we had no influence. We are showing solidarity with the European Union and it must show us the same. In addition, and far more practically, the EU cannot afford to let members suffer for remaining true to the Union”.
He called for a special status for Northern Ireland, saying this was one of Fianna Fáil’s two starting points on Northern Ireland’s position post-Brexit.
“First, the will of the people of Northern Ireland must be reflected in the final outcome. Imposing the full impact of hard Brexit on Northern Ireland is unacceptable.
“Second, Dublin must promote and support special status for Northern Ireland in whatever way possible consistent with our remaining full and active members of the European Union.”