tv Georgetown University Discussion on Brexit CSPAN December 16, 2018 9:38pm-9:58pm EST
>> georgetown university hosted a discussion on friday. in this portion, ireland's ambassador to the last and several civil rights activists talked about how brexit could affect civil rights in northern ireland. >> thank you very much. up with ato open couple questions now and we will move to the floor. it would be remiss of me if i did not address the elephant in the room. absentthe things that is from politics today is an absence of foresight or willingness to engage in foresight. former prime minister david cameron, largely because of an internal debate, it did not occur to him that there is a van
border with european union and united kingdom. the island of ireland has been living with that cents. the issue of brexit. what do you think of the implications of whether it is a soft, hard or no deal brexit for northern ireland in particular in terms of civil rights? they are asserting their rights over the rest of the community, but in northern peace --the hard-won it was a 4% majority vote over the rest of the united kingdom. scotland did not vote for brexit. young people certainly did not vote for brexit. what are the implications that offers much union
greater rights and standards were living? those rights are now jeopardized for people within northern ireland. would be theu say most worrying aspect of brexit for the future of civil rights and perhaps peace in northern ireland? >> look. have been there for 40 years. i see the european union membership as part of a progressive evolution of ireland because first of all, a gave us the opportunity to develop our economic potential, which we had failed to do before we joined. secondly, it exposes to
scene,ces outside the which i think are helpful and positive. i think in northern ireland -- i back in the 1990's when i was at the -- when i was at brussels. there was a degree of cooperation between the deadly .olitical enemies in strasburg, there was a certain degree of cooperation across the line. , wemember in those days provide briefings for all of the irish north and south. it -- being told not
to send them to the -- think about it. , it does notreland mention e.u. membership as a condition. suffused agreement is with the understanding that they belong to the european union. if you think of the good friday agreement as a bargain under which northern nationalists republicans agreed to the status quo into some time in the future and in return for that, there is an arrangement for the north and south dimension. i know that for both sides, the brexit issue is being seen as a
unilateral change to the agreement. threat that one of the dividends of the trade agreement , the open border might somehow in the future be compromised. for unionists, there is a view that the agreement is somehow a departure from their view of how the constitutional fabric should look. they say to be completely resistant to any distinction between northern ireland and the rest of the u.k., even to gain quite significant benefits. if i were a northern ireland business person or politician, i think i would be saying that the backstop, if it were to be applied would actually give
northern ireland a unique advantage, that it would become the only place in europe don't toe access to the market and the single market of the u.k.. that would be a big selling point for northern ireland. development and the -- its economic potential. that seems to have been completely dismissed. is deeplyexit unwelcome and unfortunate development. it is unfortunate because it has, at a time where other things have come into play and conspired to create new tensions in northern ireland. my own view is that we have to get over the brexit hurdle first and then look at how we can try to mend some of the fences that
have been damaged over the last couple of years. >> i would like to continue with this. say thatall, i want to i personally think that the came in june.hich it was 2016? it seems like a significant moment. we talked about tony blair earlier. one of the problems with brexit is it seems to be a reflection of not having explained the good friday agreement to the british working class. it seems to me that there is some way in which england, not london, where the brexit support what theot been told good friday agreement meant in
this.of at the time of martin mcguinness's death, it was apparent that the mother of -- mothers of soldiers had been involved in northern ireland had not -- it has not been explained ofthem what the implications that freeing of the prisoners was about on the one hand. there is a kind of intolerance of anything that the agreement represented. one of the consequences was this brexit, this england vote that developed. that is my personal observation. the other thing that strikes me is actually the farmers in northern ireland are supporting -- are not supporting. the real anomaly of the northern
irish situation is the number of people i speak to who do not a dep. the businessmen are not getting into the ditch with the dup. always seems to me to be a strange thing that you are told. the businessmen are actually saying that they want to make bills. they actually want what is happening. they want this special relationship with the eu and it is to their advantage. something seems to happen when they get into the polling booth and confronted. that seems to me to be the problem that because of this binary production of our identity -- they are right. now, we have now.
the point about changing that reduction of our identities to -- it is a huge loss to me, the eu. the thing that has guaranteed my involvement with european union as i have two passports and i have always been happy to be a european union us. it's all the incredible anomaly of being a northerner and a southerner at the same time for me. while at first i could not happily claimed to be a unionists, i can happily claim to be a european unionists. i know the great advantage of what we ended up with is one of the great advantages. it guarantees -- >> how does brexit look from over here? >> it looks like lunacy. i do not think there is anything
-- from where i sit, i think that the labour party is dealing in its role. this is a tory fight with the majority party. this was a referendum that was advisory at the time, not binding. thats to settle a score cameron thought was paving its way home. it did pave its way home. john gave a speech here after he left his role as ambassador. about what the european union meant in terms of european history. the importance of the european ason, not to be looked at one of those little things that you could be annoyed about the bureaucracy in russell's or any
of the other annoyances that anybody could have about a centralized administration. about the history of europe before there was a european union. how european union had replaced that with a democratic process. it is imperfect. for the british of all people to walk away with that having suffered themselves in these me, it a mindless exercise. just because jeremy corbyn plots it is a capitalist going on in brussels, we do not have an opposition that will stand up and say this is crazy. we cannot get an agreement that the tories can agree on. the only agreement that is possible would be a new election
. maybe it only passed by four. i do not know how it would come out. people say brexit is inevitable. the prime minister said we have to have it. excuse me? they had one advisory vote. i hope they will have another. i hope that is what happens. goodnot think it is a brexit. i think it will be better with a backstop than without it. seebviously do not want to -- go to ireland. ink at all the is done ireland and northern ireland. it is amazing to me that they the 27ood firm as nations in support of the open border. that is quite unusual. shame that ita
will come down to this. >> we have certain attitudes towards britain, towards the english. given thathas to be on many occasions over the generations, they have proved to have able politicians. amazing, the ineptitude. but ony on the tory side the liberal side as well. total ineptitude. hope that the brexit will eventually leave.
i think it could be inevitably, there will be a referendum. i hope it will be different from the last time. so many lies were told. no alternative has been given. concerned, thee people of ireland are proud to have our diplomats. presidentthe government. i know from experience over the years, be it united states, be it can bash the continental europe, london and all over the place.
ireland has changed over the of the eu. and we have been forced to in with othere concepts. been an advantage on that level as well. -- brexit, thet better. >> one more thing. i think it is important to recognize areas the civil rights unit -- movement. processl part of a long of openness, which we have benefited from.
to some extent, the last number of years has seen a reaction project oft 50 year opening out and embracing change and so on. brexit is part of that reaction because brexit is an exercise. it is a narrowing. closing things down rather than opening up because opening up has come to be seen as risky and unpopular. it happens in some parts of europe where you have seen the trend. you can see prime minister's questions live on c-span2 or watch sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span.
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