O’Brien criticises SF call for Border poll in wake of Brexit

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy denies ‘knee jerk’ reaction by party following UK referendum

Sinn Féin's decision to call for a Border poll in the wake of the Brexit vote was a strategic mistake, the Fianna Fáil spokesman on foreign affairs and trade, Darragh O'Brien, told a public meeting in Dublin yesterday.

However Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy said parties that wanted to see a united Ireland cannot be seen as a threat just for seeking to achieve their objectives.

He rejected Mr O’Brien’s description of the Border poll as a “knee jerk” reaction to the result of the UK referendum.

Mr O’Brien said there were lots of negatives to be seen in the Brexit vote but one positive was that the people of Northern Ireland had voted against it. This showed that the majority there wanted to look “forward and outwards”.


However Sinn Féin in the wake of the result ignored this and called for a Border poll. While his party wanted to see a united Ireland, he believed it was important to build a consensus first, and to work with the Unionist people in addressing the issues thrown up by the Brexit vote.

“People have had enough of the politics of gestures,” he said.

Brexit posed a threat to all of Ireland, he said, and everyone should work together to mitigate its effects.

Mr McCarthy said the majority of the people in Northern Ireland wanted to remain in the EU and everyone needed to work together to uphold that democratic decision. “It is my view that the best way to do this is through a united Ireland.”

Brexit showed the need for an informed, respectful debate on re-unification. “This is the time to plan and build,” he said. He rejected that it was “divisive” to raise the issue of re-unification in the context of the Brexit vote.

Mr McCarthy said his party was very critical of the EU and many supporters of the party had been “holding their noses” when they voted remain in the Brexit vote.