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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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Senator Ian Marshall

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Senator Ian Marshall

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Snippet Contents:

I begin by echoing the warm welcome extended by my colleagues to President Juncker and our distinguished guests. As the only Northern Irish person who has the opportunity to speak today in this House, I address it on behalf of my fellow Independent Senators. I am extremely privileged that that honour has been bestowed on me. I make no apology that my opinions are prejudiced by the fact that I live and work in Northern Ireland. I am proud to be defined as Northern Irish, British, Irish and European, a truly complex cultural cocktail.
As someone who believes in and respects democracy, we need to consider how and why we have reached this place. A decision by the citizens of the United Kingdom based on the information available and their understanding of the implications of Brexit was taken at a point in time. It is one I respect. However, as a democrat, I need to ensure that whatever course of action we follow is representative of the views of the majority; that it reflects opinion now, not two years ago; that it reflects opinion based on fact, not fantasy; that it reflects opinion based on reality and is not reckless; and, most important, that the opinion of the silent majority is expressed and represented.
Credit must go to all those who have contributed to the Brexit discussions, including those in Northern Ireland - all of the civic forum groups, lobby groups, politicians and members of the general public who are so frustrated by the lack of clarity at this late hour.
Northern Ireland's nearest neighbours are in this House today. Its biggest allies are here. In an era in which a focus is placed on fake news, we need to be aware that the fake news and spin being played out is that Dublin and Brussels are conspiring against the United Kingdom, but nothing is farther from the truth. The United Kingdom proposed a departure, which I hope will never materialise. Therefore, it must present some solutions. History will judge this period by assessing whether decisions so critical to the future of the United Kingdom and Ireland were taken in the absence of reason and rational thinking. It will judge whether the United Kingdom's position was based on a fair and balanced evaluation of the potential impact of Brexit; whether Brexit was used for political gain; whether the people were consulted and then and only then whether we made a decision to deliver for the future; whether we truly represented the interests of the generations to come and the young people eager to grow and develop as members of the largest community in the world.