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Address by Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

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Address by Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

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Address by Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission

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Deputy Eamon Ryan

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Snippet Contents:

On the longest day I hope this will be the shortest speech. President Juncker will be glad to hear that it is the last one.
I am a member of the Irish Green Party. It is an all-island party, North and South, and a proud member of the European Green Party.
How we deal with Brexit will reflect on the European Union as a whole. I met a group of Irish nationalists last week who made the valid point that the human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement had been forgotten. If, as the Taoiseach said, we are setting a compass, we cannot have a compass that only just looks at trade. There are four points on the compass. We also need to look at the human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement to make sure they will be protected. I heard the leader of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions say the protocols and all of the arrangements made to deal with the trade and customs issue ignored workers' rights. I know from my work in the Green movement that the protocols and all of the talk are also ignoring environmental rights in how we deal with Brexit and that must change.
Listening to President Juncker it seems clear that if there is a deal, we are facing having a border in the Irish Sea. That will present real challenges. Whatever happens in this process, if that is the outcome, I ask him to help us to work with our unionist friends in order that we will be able to manage the incredibly difficult task of operating much more as an island, which for me will be good, but it will not be easy.
We should be careful in the language we use. I am concerned about some of the language used here today in criticising nationalism in other countries. There was a slight tinge to the phrase "Ireland first". I use an Irish phrase instead: ní neart go cur le chéile - there is strength in unity. Our unity should continue with our friends in the United Kingdom. I was at Westminster yesterday talking to my colleagues in advance of the vote. I regret that they have had a vote, but everyone is aware of the interparliamentary relationship where we are on the best of terms with people of all parties in the United Kingdom. We have always got on well and should continue to do so. If it goes wrong, as seems to be the case, given that President Juncker has said there is now a chance of a crash-out and the prospect of no deal, I ask two things - first, that he keep open the prospect that the United Kingdom can revoke Article 50 should it change its mind in that regard. That may happen as late as early next year, depending on the Parliament. Second, I call for support for my colleague, Caroline Lucas, who will be one of the lead speakers at the people's march next weekend. The hope is that it will give rise to the prospect of a people's vote in which they might change their minds. We have done so in the past in two referendums on the European treaty. We know how to do it. The first thing is that one must not insult the people. One does not talk down to them. Ní neart go cur le chéile. A little decency might solve this problem more than anything else.