Catholic bishops warn of Brexit consequences

Northern Ireland prelates say a UK vote to leave the EU would have ‘disruptive impact’

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin is among the Catholic bishops who have warned of the consequences of a Brexit. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin is among the Catholic bishops who have warned of the consequences of a Brexit. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Catholic bishops whose dioceses are wholly or partly within Northern Ireland have issued a strong warning on the implications of the UK voting to leave the EU in the June 23rd referendum.

The bishops said it was “crucial” that people informed themselves and voted in the referendum, singling out young people in particular, “given the importance of the EU context for their future options in terms of study and employment”.

They warned that in Ireland the “reintroduction of border controls, for example, would not only have profound implications for trade and the economy, but also for the wider civil society, notably through the disruptive impact on the day-to-day life of those who live in border areas or cross the border frequently”, and that “valuable work carried out to date to build new relationships across these islands must not be undermined” by the vote.

They said that “in Northern Ireland, the support of the EU in the quest for peace and reconciliation has been evident in many ways, including the creation of important spaces for dialogue, financial support for the work of peace and reconciliation, freedom of movement of people, and the development of infrastructure to support new relationships across the island of Ireland and with the UK”.

The referendum outcome could have “far-reaching political, economic and cultural implications for the island of Ireland, for these islands, and for the whole of the EU”, they said.

Human dignity

They said that “the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU places an explicit commitment to human dignity at the heart of the union”, as was “evident in the way in which its institutions and daily political life have seen erstwhile enemies come together”.

It was, they said, “important to acknowledge the remarkable achievement of the EU in this area and ensure that this work is not undermined”.

It was also the case that “in an ever more interdependent world, the EU provides individual member states with a valuable mechanism of international influence in terms of peace-making, development, trade negotiation and shared environmental responsibility, in support of the global common good”.

However, as citizens of Europe, “inspired by our Christian faith, we need to take responsibility for ensuring that the policies of the European Union reflect our commitment to the protection of the dignity of human life at all stages - from the moment of conception until its natural end.

“This responsibility extends beyond the casting of our vote in the referendum,” they said.

The bishops concerned are the Catholic primate Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin, Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor, Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, Bishop of Clogher Liam MacDaid, and Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown.