By Kieran O’Mahony
IT was certainly an interesting time to be visiting the European Parliament in Strasbourg at the start of July, with the Brexit hangover still casting a dull spell over proceedings, at the latest Plenary Session in the Hemicycle.
Taking place in the French city once a month, this latest session saw the MEPs debate the conclusions of the June 28th-29th EU summit, where EU leaders digested the UK referendum vote to leave the EU.
MEPs were vocal in this plenary session about Brexit, with one MEP comparing former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, and his Brexit supporters to ‘behaving like children building a wooden tower and then knocking it.’
Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, MEP for the Midlands North West constituency, spoke at the session and even called for the ‘undoing of this union’ and said that ‘Ireland was blackmailed by the EU when it came to the banking crisis’.
Following the plenary sessions, a meeting with Irish MEPs Brian Hayes, Sean Kelly and Mairead McGuinness and Deirdre Clune gave us their take on Brexit and the implications both for the EU and Ireland.
‘Today’s debate was more calm than the previous one and now Britain needs to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets out how a member can leave the EU,’ said Sean Kelly.
‘The longer they postpone the decision to exit, then multinational companies will think it’s too risky and may invest elsewhere. There will be no single market á la carte as such, and there will be pre-negotiations before Article 50 is triggered,’ he said.
MEP for Ireland South, Deirdre Clune, pointed out that there’s no certainty about anything now, and the proceedings to exit the European Union will take time.
‘We’re concerned more about the Irish situation as we will be geographically isolated, as they’re our nearest neighbour. If they delay in invoking Article 50 then it is more worrying,’ said Deirdre.
‘It’s going to take time for the process to be completed and from an Irish point of view, we want Britain in a single market as we export a lot of agricultural produce to them. I would be concerned about the North, too, as we don’t want a border back.’
MEP Brian Hayes also agreed that this debate will go on much longer than people think and will involve a lot more negotiations.