‘We need to develop more Irish-British ties ahead of Brexit’ – McHugh

first_imgGOVERNMENT Chief Whip Joe McHugh, TD, says many British politicians want to protect the peace process and says more bridges need to be built between Irish and British politicians ahead of Brexit.McHugh, Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, says he has been encouraged by the number of British parliamentarians who have contacted him directly who are keen to protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.The Minister was speaking after the publication of UK position papers on the border ahead of substantive Brexit negotiations with the EU. “There are British politicians who don’t understand the possible implications for Ireland; who’ve never visited this island – north or south – and certainly have never spoken to someone from a border community.“But we do have many friends in Britain and we need to work with them.“There are senior politicians in all the main parties in Britain who have had their own input into the peace we enjoy today,” said the Donegal TD.“Politicians I worked alongside in the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly know the intricacies of the peace process; they know the geography of the Border and they know the politics and decisions needed to maintain and protect the process.” McHugh has been in contact with several British politicians in recent weeks, including his UK counterpart, the Government Chief Whip in the UK, the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE. Both politicians worked together closely in the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly.“Chief Whip Williamson was keen to stress that we already have a strong relationship and that we need to work to strengthen the ties between Ireland and the UK further, especially in the months ahead,” said McHugh.“I am keen to discuss this further because I believe that through dialogue with politicians who know the issues we are facing ahead of Brexit there will be more opportunities to tell our story.”The Chief Whip continued: “There is a new generation of younger politicians in Britain and we also need to get our message to them; that the peace process was hard won and we cannot throw it away.“In my role as Co-Chair of the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly I witnessed first-hand the genuine attempt to strive towards reconciliation in Ireland and across the Irish Sea, the North-South and East-West relationships that are the cornerstones of the Good Friday Agreement. People like Peter Hain and Alf Dubbs are making their voices heard in recent times and I commend them for that. “Conor McGinn, a new generation of Labour MP, who is from Armagh, has a unique understanding of how Brexit could impact our border communities.”Minister McHugh said he will be taking up an offer to meet Chief Whip Williamson and hoped to bring him and other British politicians to border areas in his own Donegal constituency to hear from local people on the possible impacts of a negative Brexit.“The UK position papers published this week are a basis for negotiation but they are not the final position and we must work on all fronts to get the best possible deal for Ireland,” said McHugh.Chief Whip McHugh said: “I hosted a conference on Brexit in Letterkenny in May and more than half of those who were in attendance were from Northern Ireland; these were organisations seeking leadership on this side of the Border. “The strong message I got that day was that many people feel they don’t have a voice on Brexit in the absence of the Northern Ireland Assembly and political institutions.“I am happy to continue to give those people – Irish Citizens among them – a voice alongside citizens of this State and voice those concerns in London, Brussels and wherever else we need to go to do that.”‘We need to develop more Irish-British ties ahead of Brexit’ – McHugh was last modified: August 19th, 2017 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:BrexitJoe McHughlast_img read more