Brexit begets atmosphere of uncertainty in Northern Ireland

Recent Brexit discussions have resulted in an atmosphere of uncertainty in Northern Ireland, says the Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown.

“Even the Unionists, that is those (in Northern Ireland) who feel they are rather more English, are of the opinion that from the economic point of view it would be better to remain part of Ireland rather that be an English colony.

“Brexit is being led by English nationalism and really has little to do with the Scots or with us in Northern Ireland. We are a colony. If Mummy says, ‘We want to leave Europe’, all her children have to say, ‘Yes, of course, Mummy’.

“We don’t want that. We have gained far too many advantages from the (Good Friday) Agreement and from the abolition of the border. We don’t want to go back to a new hard border right behind my bishop’s residence.

“I live roughly 10 km (6.2 miles) from the border,” McKeown wrote on the Cologne archdiocese online portal.

His diocese in the town of Derry is on both sides of the border.

He said that the (Brexit) problems actually have nothing to do with the Churches.

All the bishops in Northern Ireland shared responsibility for the whole island and are neither northern nor southern Irish Churches.

He says they are mainly concerned about the effect Brexit may have on people who are poor and weak.

These concerns include a possible rise in unemployment and therefore more hopelessness.

He says as the economy throughout the whole island is now integrated, people don’t want to go back to the time when a frontier cut through the middle the Derry diocese.

“Both main Churches [Anglican and Catholic] think alike on this. Our fears have to do with pastoral work and not with church power”, McKeown says.

Whatever happens on 31 October (the official Brexit deadline), the Anglican and Catholic churches will work together together to “strengthen the rights of the weak, the poor and the hopeless as, at this time of uncertainty, our role is to strengthen people who have a right to hope and the right to good government.

“Do not think of yourselves [on that date], or only about what England wants and about those who are powerful in London, but think of those who will lose out most.”


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