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1 August 2017 Edition

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Brexit: European Citizen’s Award winners tell Irish Government ‘Get off your knees’

• Sinn Féin MEPs, MLAs, TDs, senators, mayors and council chairs with members of Border Communities Against Brexit who won this year's European Citizen's Award for their energetic and imaginative grassroots campaign highlighting the challenges posed by th

Matt Carthy said that Border Communities Against Brexit are an inspiration to others

THE Irish Government has been told to “get off its knees” and demand ‘Special Status for the North Within the EU’. 

Tom Murray, a spokesperson for lobby group Border Communities Against Brexit, made the call at an event in Monaghan organised to mark the group winning the European Citizen’s Award 2017. 

Border Communities Against Brexit were nominated for the prestigious award by the four Sinn Féin MEPs and two Independent Irish MEPs.

The group was formed last year and is made up of small business owners, community workers, trade unionists, rights campaigners and others from the Border region who are who are opposed to the British Government’s plans to drag the people of the North out of the EU against their will. 

Elected representatives from across Ireland –including the four Sinn Féin MEPs and Sinn Féin mayors and council chairs from along the Border corridor – attended the celebration attempt in Monaghan’s Garage Theatre on Friday 14 July. 

A delegation from the group will travel to Brussels later in the year for the formal prize ceremony.

Speaking at the event, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midland North West constituency Matt Carthy said that Border Communities Against Brexit are an inspiration to others.

“Since the result of the Brexit referendum on 23 June last year, which will have profound implications for us all, Border Communities Against Brexit have taken their campaign to hundreds of thousands of people. 

“They have outlined and highlighted the concerns not only of people in Border areas but right across Ireland. 

“We were very pleased to nominate Border Communities Against Brexit for this prize and that two Independent MEPs, Marian Harkin and Nessa Childers, joined us to co-sign the nomination papers,” he said. 

Ireland North Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said the group is a worthy winner of the prestigious award. 

“We were delighted when Border Communities Against Brexit had won the European Citizen’s Award, although I was not surprised given the work the group has done,” she said. 

“They have stood up and taken their protests to the streets, to council chambers, to the Dáil and Assembly, and to the European Parliament.

“They have highlighted the impact on businesses, farmers, communities, and the sheer damage the Tory Brexit agenda will bring. 

“When we brought the group to Brussels we got them access to the key players in the Brexit negotiations so they could make their case on the international stage,” she explained. 

Independent MEP Marian Harkin, who also signed the nomination for Border Communities Against Brexit to win the accolade, also attended the celebration. 

“When Matt Carthy approached me to support his nomination I was absolutely delighted to do so,” she said. 

“I have lived in a Border community and I’m very aware of the potential catastrophic consequences that Brexit might bring about. The interest that this group winning this award will generate right across the EU will help in the campaign.” 

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• Members of Border Communities Against Brexit from Derry and Donegal with Sinn Féin MEPs Martina Anderson, Lynn Boylan and Matt Carthy in Monaghan to celebrate the group winning the European Citizen's Award 2017 (Seated centre is the Mayor of Donegal, Sinn Féin Councillor Gerry McMonagle)

Sinn Féin’s Ireland South MEP, Liadh Ní Riada, said Brexit will impact on the entire island of Ireland. 

“From small beginnings, Border Communities Against Brexit have already achieved so much. 

“While Brexit is a huge concern in Border communities, it goes right across Ireland and I want to let Border Communities Against Brexit know that we are all behind you, right across the island. 

“This is only the start of something bigger. Not only can this group unite Border communities but we can unite communities right across Ireland,” she said. 

Dublin Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan presented the European Citizen’s Award winner’s medal to Tom Murray on behalf of the Border Communities Against Brexit group. 

Speaking after receiving the medal, Tom Murray said it was an honour to pick up the award. 

He also warned about the dangers Brexit poses to the Good Friday Agreement. 

“The Border has done already done horrendous damage to the economic and social damage to the communities who live in its shadow. A new European border will cause more damage to the whole island if Ireland. 

“It threatens to undermine the Good Friday Agreement and will upset social and economic growth for many years,” he said. 

Tom also had a strong challenge for the Irish Government. 

“I call upon the Irish Government to get up off its knees and demand protection for its citizens from Europe. 

“We demand Special Status for the North. Let’s push the Border off the island of Ireland and into the sea where it belongs. 

“Put away the begging bowl and stand as an equal nation in Europe and demand our rights. 

“We cannot be punished for the errors of others and a vote in Britain. And we cannot accept the undemocratic imposition of a border. 

“The Government of Ireland needs to stand up and represent the people of Ireland, fight for Special Status and push the Border out to sea,” he said.

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