Anxious future for North after Brexit vote, warns Primate

Anxious future for North after Brexit vote, warns Primate

‘Nervousness and uncertainty’ over free movement at border

Archbishop Eamon Martin has spoken of the “nervousness and uncertainty” facing the people of Northern Ireland in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The Primate of All-Ireland told The Irish Catholic that he had been “taken by surprise” by the result of the referendum and voiced “concerns about the future prosperity on the island [of Ireland] and how it might impact us”.

“My initial reaction, I think like many people in Ireland, was one of a certain sense of nervousness and uncertainty. I think that many people really hadn’t expected the result to turn out the way it did so in that sense I was taken by surprise.

“We are very much in unchartered territory here now. There are some fears of unemployment, the impact on families, on their homes, and those kind of economic worries and concerns,” the Archbishop of Armagh said.

Archbishop Eamon also highlighted disquiet about what impact the result of the Brexit may have along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. 

“There is certainly a nervousness about what might be the impact along the border. We have become used to that complete freedom of movement along the border and we tend to associate border checkpoint, customs, controls, with an era which we thought that been confined to the past,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, President of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (COMECE), described as “regrettable” the result of the Brexit vote.

Noting that the European Union was “a project of community and solidarity”, the German cardinal warned that a “conscious withdrawal of a member is therefore painful and has consequences for all”.

“The increasing nationalism in some countries must not become again the trigger of ideological delimitation, hostility and discord. As Church, we will commit ourselves to this with full force,” he said.

Archbishop Eamon called on people to “remain calm” and engage in “a period of reflection on what the values and the principles were that we treasured and shared by being within the European Union”.

Referring in particular to peace, solidarity and the development of peoples, the archbishop said he “would be hopeful that in any negotiations we would drill down to find the bedrock of these principles and build upon them”.