'Sinn Féin looking for handy PR with border poll' - FF's O'Brien
Published 29/08/2016 | 02:30
Sinn Féin needs to stop looking for "handy PR" and "get its head around beginning to actually advocate for Europe" in the wake of Brexit, Fianna Fáil's foreign affairs spokesman has said.
At a debate on the impact of the UK referendum vote for Northern Ireland, Darragh O'Brien claimed Sinn Féin have made "a strategic mistake" by demanding a border poll that won't pass.
"The North has had enough of the politics of gestures and using elections to assess difference rather than build consensus. The cynicism of Sinn Féin in the manner and timing of their intervention on this was a source of great frustration," he said.
Speaking at the event in the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Mr O'Brien said Gerry Adams's party faces "a particular challenge" because it opposed EU membership in the first place.
"As we all now focus on how to mitigate the damage of Brexit, Sinn Féin needs to start getting its head around beginning to actually advocate for Europe.
"Not as a mechanism to get one over unionism or as a means to something else, but as a community of human rights, prosperity, security, and common interest that Northern Ireland is better being part of," he said.
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said his party had campaigned for 'Remain' despite their own critical view of EU policy.
"We did so because it would be simply incomprehensible to have one part of this small island operating within the EU and another part outside it," he said.
Mr Carthy said the only way to uphold the democratic wishes of the people of the North was "though the unity of the island of Ireland".
"For English and Welsh votes to drag the North of Ireland out of the EU against the will of its people would, like Partition itself, be yet another travesty of democracy," he argued.
He also accused Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael of engaging in "rhetoric" on a United Ireland.
Representing Fine Gael, Senator Neale Richmond said trying "to force a border poll" in the short-term will be viewed as "an attempt to force the majority of people in Northern Ireland into a United Ireland".