The hard won gains and progress of past twenty years must be protected and built upon post-Brexit – Mary Lou McDonald TD

This evening the Dáil is debating a motion on the Brexit Draft Withdrawal agreement.

Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that progress since the Good Friday Agreement must be protected and built upon post-Brexit.

Teachta McDonald said:

“Over the past twenty years, our island has changed beyond recognition.

“Children born today – in Belfast, in Cork, in Derry, in Galway, or here in Dublin – are born to a society which is now more prosperous, more open and more tolerant.

“There have been ups and downs, setbacks and knocks along the way, but the trajectory has been constant – we have moved – and we are moving – forward.

“But, there is a problem and that problem is Brexit.

“Our island’s progress and our island’s future – did not feature as part of the debate surrounding the Brexit referendum; which was held let’s face it – primarily because of a squabble amongst the Tories.

“We first put the case for a special deal that would take cognisance of the unique circumstances that present themselves here on our island.

“We have brought our view to Europe, to the Irish government and to the British government consistently over the past year and a half.

“When we first articulated a policy of ‘special status’ for the north, some of the parties here accused us of grandstanding and said it was ‘unrealistic’.

“It has since become the agreed EU position in negotiations. I welcome that and acknowledge the shift in the government’s position. I think we have made an impact in that regard.

We want that as the final outcome and that should be the position of everybody and every party on the island. We want to avert the imposition of hard border. We want to ensure citizens’ rights are protected.

“We want to ensure that the hard won gains and progress of past twenty years are protected, and built upon.”