Belfast Telegraph

Pictured: Martina Anderson wears Republic of Ireland jersey in EU Parliament


Martina Anderson wears James McClean's Ireland football jersey in the European Parliament
Martina Anderson wears James McClean's Ireland football jersey in the European Parliament

Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson wore a Republic of Ireland football jersey given to her by James McClean in the European Parliament on Wednesday.

The jersey was worn by McClean in the Republic of Ireland's 2-0 European Qualifying victory over Gibraltar on June 10.

Writing on Twitter Ms Anderson said that she was wearing the jersey "with pride".

Londonderry footballer McClean is an outspoken supporter of Sinn Fein. He also represents Championship club Stoke City.

Ms Anderson held her passport in the air as she addressed the parliament during a discussion on the UK's exit from the EU.

"My Irish passport says that it is the entitlement and birthright of everyone born on the island of Ireland to be part of the Irish nation," she said.

"As this resolution clearly states we Irish in the North of Ireland are therefore entitled to EU citizenship where we reside.

Martina Anderson
Martina Anderson

"Whilst the backstop is essential to prevent a hardening of the border partitioning Ireland, to protect the All-Ireland economy and North-South cooperation it takes us out of the EU against our will, we in the North of Ireland voted to remain."

Ms Anderson said there was a provision for Northern Ireland to renter the EU in the event of Irish unity.

"It is important this parliament recognises as stated in the resolution the legitimacy of whatever choice is freely exercised by the majority of the people in the North of Ireland to our right to change its status, to our right to self determination," the Sinn Fein MEP said.

"As recognised in the Good Friday Agreement in British and Irish law, the European Council statement stated that in the event of Irish reunification all 32 counties would remain in the EU.

"The French president Macron stated that the solution to the Brexit problem is Irish reunification, Lord Ashcroft's opinion poll shows a majority in favour of Irish reunification, the Good Friday Agreement provides a peaceful, democratic pathway back into the EU for the people of the North of Ireland and that should be respected by all."

Speaking following the European Parliament session, Ms Anderson said she was "very proud" to wear the Republic of Ireland jersey, given it was worn in a match against Gibraltar.

"I felt it sent a signal to the people of Gibraltar, who, like ourselves in the north of Ireland, voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and they are going to have problems crossing the border in Spain as a consequence of a crash-out Brexit," she said.

"When I put this t-shirt on, it was in international solidarity with people in Gibraltar, but it's also important for people to realise the damage that is going to be done...

"Sportsmen and women, people across Ireland and in the north of Ireland, actors or other commentators are involved in a very calm and reasonable conversation about the form and the shape of a new Ireland."

DUP MEP Diane Dodds also spoke during the debate and said that the EU must acknowledge that the unionist community is opposed to the backstop.

"Not a single member of the Northern Ireland Assembly from the unionist tradition supports the backstop. Every unionist party which stood in the EU elections did so on a platform of rejecting the backstop. A recent opinion poll shows that 81% of the unionist community are firmly against the backstop," Mrs Dodds said.

"There is a democratic problem with the backstop and you, Mr Barnier, cannot wash your hands of it.

"Northern Ireland would be subject to huge swathes of legislation with no control or representation. The backstop simply does not have the support of the unionist community in Northern Ireland."

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