Brexit and Northern Ireland. Fears and Hopes for the Future.
One of the most debated topics regarding Brexit nowadays are the possible consequences for Northern Ireland. Perhaps this was not highlighted enough during the campaign for the 2016 referendum but the possibility of a new “hard” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland if no deal is reached between the UK and the European Union is very serious.
What would be the consequences for people in Northern Ireland? What social and economic impact Brexit could have for them?
To find out what are the thoughts about Brexit of the younger generation of Northern Ireland, today Impakter is speaking with Doire Finn. Doire is a political activist and she is member of the group Our Future Our Choice Northern Ireland. She will share with us her thoughts and her fears on how Brexit could affect her future and the future of her country.
What are your and Our Future Our Choice Northern Ireland thoughts about Brexit? How could this affect your life in Northern Ireland?
Doire Finn: Our Future Our Choice Northern Ireland are a group of young people from across all of Northern Ireland who are terrified about the lasting impacts that Brexit is going to have on our lives. For students, Brexit has the capacity to change tuition fees and create a situation where programmes such as Erasmus may no longer be able to be accessed. For those who are living on the border there are many issues, including the prospect of a hard border, which no-one living in this area wants. With a hard border, there is the chance that paramilitary organisations become active once more, and the possibility of being dragged back into a past of violence which young people in Northern Ireland have been lucky to escape. We are frightened that there will be huge economic impacts and that our prospects of employment will be stymied by the imposition of any border- hard or soft- on the island of Ireland.
IN THE PHOTO: Doire Finn meeting students at Logan College in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
PHOTO CREDIT: Our Future Our Choice NI
What is Our Future Our Choice Northern Ireland doing against Brexit now? Are you raising awareness of the possible consequences?
Doire Finn: Our Future Our Choice Northern Ireland began working in August of this year. We are a group run by five young people who are engaging both socially and politically with the people of Northern Ireland to encourage support for a People’s Vote. We have met with some of our most prominent politicians. We have also been engaging with students across Northern Ireland in the way of visits to schools and our visible presence at universities to mobilise young people who feel as though Brexit threatens their future. We have engaged with local business, farmers, and those in community groups who are helping us get our message across to those with whom they are working.
In this moment of heavy tensions, it seems like there is a possibility of a no-deal Brexit between the British Government and the European Union, what is your opinion about that?
Doire Finn: There are many very delicate issues, particularly to do with Northern Ireland, which I feel could cause a no deal scenario to occur. The possibility of a no deal Brexit is very real and could be a complete disaster. No deal is not an option. When the idea of Brexit first came around, nobody was ever told about the potential of a no deal. The campaign that was conducted was based on lies and promises that are now not only completely impossible to keep but inherently damaging to the futures of those for whom they are going to have the most impact. No deal will sink our economy, create chaos for travel, and create a situation in Northern Ireland where people are unable to live their daily lives.
IN THE PHOTO: Christopher McCaffrey, one of the members of OFOCNI with Lord Adonis, one the most famous anti-Brexit activist. PHOTO CREDIT: Our Future Our Choice NI.
Do you think people were well informed about the possible consequences of their vote? Do you, and the other members of Our Future, Our Choice NI feel like the older generations betrayed you and the other young people with this vote?
Doire Finn: I feel as though nobody could have imagined how detrimental the consequences of their votes could have been. The campaign that was conducted in 2016 was divisive, toxic and based on lies and I don’t think it would be right to say I feel betrayed by anyone other than politicians who were self-serving and did not deliver the right message to those who were voting. I don’t believe that the older generations betrayed us. However, I do believe that they are going to be less affected by Brexit, and therefore we deserve to be given the chance to have our voices heard in this debate. Young and old need to join together in order to create the best possible future that we can.
Do you support a second referendum on Brexit? Do you think there is still a chance for the UK to remain?
Doire Finn: If we’re being technical, another vote would be a third referendum. We had one back in 1975. A People’s Vote will allow people to be more educated on what they are voting for. Much like the Good Friday agreement, it will allow every citizen to look at the terms of the deal and decide if they agree on what Brexit is going to mean for their lives. A People’s Vote will allow more than a million young people who were not able to have their voices heard in the 2016 referendum to have a voice on the decisions that are going to impact them for the rest of their lives. Not only this, but it gives those who were unaware of the consequences that Brexit is going to have an opportunity to stand up and say that this is not what they want for the future. For Northern Ireland, I particularly feel that this is important because we are going to be the most negatively impacted post-Brexit.
IN THE PHOTO: The Founders of OFOCNI Christopher McCaffrey, Aron Hughes, Pearse Smith and Doire Finn. PHOTO CREDIT: Our Future Our Choice NI.
What would you like to be the future of Ireland? One united country? Northern Ireland still in the EU? Other options?
Doire Finn: The future of Ireland is hugely dependent on the outcomes of Brexit. The prospect of a United Ireland has now come to the forefront of political discourse and I feel as though there has been a shift towards supporting this. Through the Good Friday Agreement there is the provision for a border poll, and this is something that is inevitably going to happen. However, many people do not see a united Ireland as a quick and easy solution to fixing the problems that are going to be left behind by Brexit. I think the future of Northern Ireland can be a positive one, with the work of young people who are passionate about creating a future in which they are able to move forward, away from a past of violence and democratic deficit, and into one in which they are politically engaged and prosperous.
WATCH: Damien McGenity, a farmer from Forkhill, on the now invisible border in NI. Telling us why Brexit will be a disaster & why he's backing our campaign in NI for a #PeoplesVote
RT to spread this crucial message pic.twitter.com/oQQk0BiY71
— Our Future Our Choice NI (@OFOCNI) October 9, 2018