Border issue settled for a generation, TD tells NI21 conference

Brian Hayes
Brian Hayes

Northern Ireland’s constitutional position is settled for a generation, a member of the Republic’s government told Saturday’s NI21 conference.

Fine Gael junior finance minister Brian Hayes said that the Province had moved from the “aggressive nationalism” and a unionism which had not recognised any Irish political dimension.

He said: “The constitutional issue is settled for this generation, despite what Mr Adams might say.”

He also delivered a relentlessly pro-European message to the conference, saying that “were Britain to leave the EU it would be a disaster for both parts of this island”, adding: “It is in Ireland’s national interest that Britain should remain a full member of the EU.”

He said that three years ago, when the Republic was forced to apply for a financial bailout from the EU to save its economy, it had been “an enormous humiliation”.

Deputy leader John McCallister, who was the last speaker, began his speech in Irish. He said that there were good people in the UUP, SDLP and Alliance — which he said was “a comfortable part of the establishment” — but those parties could not deliver change.

Stephen Hillis, Olive Buckley, Suzanne Chalkley and Annette Holden were elected to NI21’s executive, joining the leader, deputy leader, chair Tina McKenzie, treasurer Tony McMahon and secretary David Rose.