Former EC official calls for North to get 'honorary' EU membership

Northern Ireland should be given "honorary" European Union (EU) membership while remaining part of the UK, a former European Commission head in Belfast has said.

The SDLP has joined calls for a referendum on a united Ireland after Brexit to allow the region to rejoin the 27-country bloc.

Jane Morrice said the North could become a European place of global peace-building.

She added: "Honorary EU membership would not only protect the peace process and counter any negative impact of Brexit but also promote peace worldwide by making Northern Ireland the launchpad of a new EU-led global peace-building initiative."

Nationalists are campaigning for the North to be given special status within the EU following Brexit.

The Democratic Unionists supported Leave in last year's referendum.

Ms Morrice added: "Honorary EU membership would protect the peace process by avoiding a hard border and allowing Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK and part of the EU in keeping with the consent principle of the Good Friday Agreement.

"It would allow citizens of Northern Ireland to remain European and retain their rights, and it would ensure continued support for peace and prosperity in the region."

Polls show most want to remain in the EU and in the UK.

Ms Morrice said: "Honorary EU membership would do that and would avoid further destabilising the delicately-balanced Northern Ireland political institutions by maintaining the status quo, but only if the request is put by the UK and Ireland at the behest of the Northern Ireland Assembly/Executive."

She said Stormont powersharing talks offered another opportunity to agree a common position.

"It would exceptionally give Northern Ireland the right to retain the benefits of EU membership and maintain an open border, while remaining part of the UK.

"In keeping with the (Good Friday) Agreement, which affords Northern Ireland citizens the right to be British and Irish, therefore European, it would defend citizens' rights and protect the peace process by ensuring continued EU support for peace and prosperity as well as joint UK/Ireland co-operation to that end."

The former member of the Women's Coalition, which participated in the peace talks which led to the 1998 accord, said her proposal would allow the country to share its peace and reconciliation experience with the rest of the world.

She said the EU should spearhead a global peace-building initiative entitled White Dove after the Irish pilgrim Columbanus who left for Europe in the sixth century.


Related Articles

Juncker denies making disparaging comments about May after Brussels dinner

Simon Coveney believes Common Travel Area between Ireland and UK will be 'protected' after Brexit

If EU punishes UK then trade talks get complicated warns British Minister

Europe agrees no physical border between Republic of Ireland and the North, says Theresa May

More in this Section

UK government to help pay travel expenses for NI women travelling to England for abortion

First ever live broadcast of court proceedings in Ireland tomorrow

Environmental group launches court challenge to Government's National Mitigation Plan

Clients have no case to answer, lawyers for Tusla and Garda officers tell Charleton tribunal


Today's Stories

Two die in Cork and Wicklow while working to repair storm damage

Banks facing fines for tracker mortgage scandal

Judge reveals €17,000 overcharging ‘to give heart to others’

Extra bill for HSE as delay hits €33m hospital system

Lifestyle

A helicopter put a piano on the 150-foot roof of Blarney Castle and other stories from the Cork Jazz Festival archives

Jazz Memories: Famous faces share their favourite moments

Live music review: The Horrors - Icy genius in a thrillingly intimate setting

Choosing a sheltered spot for Maples is vital

More From The Irish Examiner