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Brexit is being led by English nationalism, bishop warns

By Sarah Mac Donald - 13 August, 2019

“We don’t want to go back to a new hard border right behind my bishop’s residence.”

Northern Ireland is a “colony” that is facing great uncertainty thanks to Brexit, according to Bishop Donal McKeown of Derry.

In an interview with Renardo Schlegelmilch of domradio.de in Germany and reported by The Tablet, Bishop McKeown said Brexit had little to do with Northern Ireland or Scotland, but was instead “being led by English nationalism”.

“If Mummy says, ‘We want to leave Europe’, all her children have to say, ‘Yes, of course, Mummy’. We don’t want that. We have gained far too many advantages from the (Good Friday) Agreement and from the abolition of the border. We don’t want to go back to a new hard border right behind my bishop’s residence.”

He also stressed that Brexit discussions, especially in recent months, have led to an atmosphere of “great uncertainty” in Northern Ireland.

The Bishop of Derry explained to the German news station that even some Unionists believe that from an economic point of view it would be better to remain part of Ireland and the EU.

The Tablet reports that Bishop McKeown told the online portal of the Cologne Archdiocese on 12th August: “I live roughly 10km from the border. Up to 20 years ago, the town of Derry was at the very end of a dead-end road, but the diocese was and still is on both sides of the border.”

He said that the problem of Brexit had nothing to do with the churches. The main problem for the churches was what would happen to the weak and the poor when Great Britain leaves the EU on 31st October.

Bishop McKeown said that as the economy on the whole island of Ireland was so integrated, people did not want to go back to the situation before the Good Friday Agreement when a border had cut right through the middle of the diocese of Derry.

“Both main Churches think alike on this. Our fears have to do with pastoral work and not with church power,” he said.

He said that both the Anglican and Catholic churches must pull together to strengthen the rights of the weak, poor and homeless.

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