The UK’s vote to ‘Brexit’ the European Union (EU) has left Sinn Fein in “an almost impossible dilemma” and could ultimately lead to another collapse of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Upper Bann Assembly member Doug Beattie has claimed.
Mr Beattie said that, should Sinn Fein choose to remain in the Assembly after the EU Article 50 is invoked, it would make “a nonsense” of their claim to be an all-Ireland party.
“But if they leave the Executive in protest, the Assembly would come tumbling down and yet another crisis would be created,” he said. “They don’t want to be seen as bringing down the Assembly, so it leaves Sinn Fein in a crisis.
“Their immediate reaction to the UK’s vote to quit the EU was to demand a Border poll, but the Secretary of State rejected this, pointing out that the conditions had not been met – in other words, it had no chance of success.
“Sinn Fein also suggested that the European referendum had asked the wrong question, and that Scotland and Northern Ireland had voted to remain. But the question was simply whether the whole of the UK – of which Scotland and Northern are part – wanted to remain.
“England, of course, has by far the biggest population and held sway, with Wales also opting to get out. But that’s democracy.
“The UK – and an integral part of the EU - voted against, and as a democrat, I accept the result, even though I voted to stay. There’s no point in calling for change after the event. The question was straight-forward and they didn’t query is beforehand, probably thinking the UK would remain within the EU.”
He added that Sinn Fein would be in the situation where their Republic of Ireland MEPs would remain inside the EU, while Northern Ireland simply wouldn’t have MEPs, once Brexit was invoked.
“It certainly leaves them with a dilemma, and they want Article 50 delayed as long as possible while they work out their usual fudge – just as they did with the benefits cuts from Westminster. I am also convinced there will be no Border controls in Ireland, so that argument won’t hold water.
“They will have to answer these question soon, and not keep hoping that Brexit will be delayed. It’s coming and they have to let their supporters know where the stand.”