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Gerry Adams warns against 'divisive' EU referendum for Northern Ireland

By Noel McAdam

Published 05/05/2015

Plea: Gerry Adams
Plea: Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams has warned against the consequences of a UK referendum taking Northern Ireland out of the European Union.

And he has again insisted the province should have its own, legally-binding vote on the issue.

The Sinn Fein president accused the DUP and Ulster Unionists of "utter folly" in supporting the Conservatives, who could break the link with the EU with an 'in/out' referendum in two years.

Mr Adams said David Cameron's party had no mandate "to dictate the political or economic future of this country".

While admitting his party had been critical of the EU structures, he said it had the potential to provide a bridge "towards the greater integration of Ireland, north and south, towards a single economic and political unit".

Expanding on his suggestion a few weeks back, the Louth TD said: "It is time to build and strengthen the island economy, not split and divide it.

"Working together our economic output would be stronger. Splintering the island merely weakens the economy, public services and the spirit of the people."

Addressing Sinn Fein members in Belfast, Mr Adams added: "It is past time that the European Parliament dealt with Ireland as one, not two systems.

"The potential for the north to positively reshape our relationship with Europe in the context of the limited and narrow British vote on EU membership should not be overlooked.

"Parties with no democratic mandate in any part of Ireland cannot be allowed the power to dictate the political or economic future of this country. That is why it is important that political and economic decision-making powers must increasingly be transferred from London to Belfast."

His comments came as a report showed EU funding is worth almost a tenth of Northern Ireland's gross domestic product - and the cost of a British exit may be too great to bear.

A review by the Open University claimed the cost of doing cross-border business would rise, undermining the logic of harmonising corporation tax rates north and south and putting Northern Ireland at a disadvantage.

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