Gerry Adams has appeared to suggest that Sinn Fein is supporting the UK staying in the EU primarily because the Republic is in the EU, rather than because of the intrinsic merits of staying in the EU.
Sinn Fein has long been sceptical about Brussels and opposed the Republic’s entry into the then European Economic Community in 1972.
At the time, Sinn Fein posters stated: “If you believe in a united, prosperous and independent Ireland vote No.”
Over recent years, Sinn Fein in the Republic has repeatedly criticised “the austerity policies of the EU” and accused the European Central Bank of having “absolute disregard” for national democratic institutions.
Last year, while speaking in support of left-wing Greek party Syriza’s battle with the EU, Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson denounced the “right-wing elites of Europe” and the “anti-democratic actions of the ECB, IMF, and the European Commission”.
But yesterday, during a frequently fractious interview on RTE Radio One’s Morning Ireland programme, Mr Adams was asked why his party – given that it had been highly critical of the EU and has advocated a ‘No’ vote in every EU referendum held south of the border – was now campaigning for the UK to remain in the EU.
The outgoing TD told presenter Cathal Mac Coille: “Because we think that’s where the future of the island lies and we think it would be wrong if one part of the island left and one part of the island stayed in.”
He added: “We are critical of the European Union because of the democratic deficit ...”
Yesterday Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy accused UUP leader Mike Nesbitt – whose party executive will next week decide the party’s position on the referendum – of “dithering” over his position on the plebiscite.
The Newry and Armagh MLA said: “The issue of the EU referendum is one of the most important political issues facing us at the moment ... Ongoing uncertainty over this important issue only serves to increase the harm to our economy and wider society. Sinn Féin will campaign vigorously to stay in Europe.”