Northern Catholics speak out against ‘no deal’ Brexit
Greg Daly, Chai Brady and Colm Fitzpatrick
Prominent Northern Catholics have warned that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would be a disaster and insisted that uncertainty around Britain’s exit from the European Union is increasing pressure for a referendum on a united Ireland.
Their comments come as former Unionist leader David Trimble published an open letter to Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May in which he claimed that fears about Brexit in the North were “groundless”.
He also claimed that most Catholics have no interest in Irish unification.
Baroness Nuala O’Loan described the onetime First Minister’s intervention as “bizarre” and insisted that Lord Trimble was speaking “rubbish” on Brexit, while Alban Maginness, the former SDLP mayor of Belfast, said the erstwhile First Minister’s comments were “a flight of fancy”. Prof. Deirdre Heenan of the University of Ulster called the letter “irresponsible and reprehensible”.
In the March 1 letter, Lord Trimble and Ulster-born Labour MP Kate Hoey say “the dangers facing Northern Ireland are much smaller than [Mrs May] may have been led to believe” and that difficult decisions about the UK’s future outside the EU should not be “dominated by groundless fears about Northern Ireland”.
Rejecting the notion that Lord Trimble is qualified to speak for the North’s Catholics, Fermanagh priest Fr McVeigh said Brexit has “accelerated” discussions about unity, even among unionists, and Prof. Francis Campbell, onetime UK Ambassador to the Holy See, said a border poll now appears “inevitable”.
“That feeling or that aspiration for Irish unity is likely something that would’ve been there in part of the population, but in the post-Brexit environment it would seem to have a wider appeal,” he said.
Read all their comments here.