Michéal Martin: David Cameron was 'reckless and irresponsible' to hold Brexit referendum

Fianna Fáil leader Michéal Martin has said British prime minister David Cameron was “reckless and irresponsible” to hold a Brexit referendum writes Political reporter Elaine Loughlin.

Speaking in the wake of the leave vote in Britain he said he does not see any possibility of a second Brexit referendum and the UK will now remain outside the EU for “a very long time”.

It comes ahead of a Dáil debate on the outcome of the referendum which saw 52% vote to leave and 48% remain.

The cabinet is currently meeting to discuss the outcome and Toaiseach Enda Kenny is expected to comment on the referendum after that meeting.

Mr Martin said his party regretted the outcome which he said is a “bad decision” for Britian, for Europe for Ireland and indeed for the world.

“I would have concerns, globally the world is in a state of flux, there is a lot of uncertainty out there across the globe and also within Europe itself. This move potentially has a destabilising impact on that and heaps more uncertainty on uncertainty.”

However, he ruled out a border poll which Sinn Féin have suggested this morning after Northern Ireland voted to remain within the EU.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Martin McGuinness said the case for a poll on Irish unity has been strengthened by the Brexit vote.

But Mr Martin said the Good Friday Agreement is the way to work towards better relationships on the island of Ireland.

“The Sinn Féin call is a distraction, given that we have such instability and uncertainty what’s required now is to focus on the negotiations that are going to take place in relation to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and to ensure that we get the best deal possible.

Mr Martin said: “Part of the reason the UK voted to leave is because they have 30 or 40 years of negative commentary from politicians, anti-EU commentary and that has been a factor.

“People have been fed weekly, yearly diets of negative ant-EU skepticism, Sinn Féin has been part of that for over 30 years, I welcome the fact that Sinn Féin came on board to work for a remain vote on this occasion."

Mr Martin was critical of David Cameron, who announced his resignation as leader this morning.

“I think it was a reckless and somewhat irresponsible decision to take. I think there was very little preparation put into it.

“We know from our own referenda, we have learned lessons that one has to prepare over the long-term for such an event and I just got the sense that they almost stumbled into the referendum.

“I was very worried form the get-go that this outcome could happen because the preparation wasn’t there.”

He said we must engage with European colleagues in negotiations to “preserve the unique relation between Ireland and Britain” and that would need to be “accommodated and understood”.

“Fianna Fáil has consistently been a pro-European party and I think we need to reassert that principal that Ireland is determined to remain within the European Union and be a very constructive part of that,” Mr Martin said.

He added that he would oppose any move for Ireland to leave the EU.


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