December 2018 Brexit protest opposite the Palace of Westminster, London

Bishop of Derry: “Brexit is being led by English nationalism”

The Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown, has denounced that “Brexit is being led by English nationalism and really has little to do with the Scots or with us in Northern Ireland”.

Driving the news

McKeown made the remarks Monday to German outlet domradio.de, as The Tablet reports.

The bishop was speaking on the 50th anniversary of the ‘Battle of the Bogside’, the riot between police and Catholic civil rights protesters that marked an escalation of the Troubles and brought British soldiers onto the streets on Derry.

“The conflict (in Derry) began over human rights but became a conflict concerned with identity”, McKeown explained.

“In every conflict all manner of things are used as weapons: identity, culture, music, sport and language. But basically it was always a conflict between those in Northern Ireland who were of the opinion that they were Irish and those who wanted to keep the connection with England”, the bishop told domradio.de.

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Go deeper

Fifty years on from the deployment of British troops, a climate of “great uncertainty” has returned to Northern Ireland because of Brexit, McKeown denounced.

“We are a colony. 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 bishops’ residence”, the bishop added.

“Even the Unionists, that is those (in Northern Ireland) who feel they are rather more English, are of the opinion that from the economic point of view it would be better to remain part of Ireland rather than be an English colony”, McKeown said.

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What’s next

The UK government agreed in April with the European Union to push Brexit back to October 31.

Boris Johnson has promised to leave the EU with or without a deal, but the Labour Party and Tory rebels are still holding out hope that Parliament can block a no-deal Brexit.

Regardless of what happens October 31, McKeown had a message for politicians and pro-Brexit supporters.

“Do not think of yourselves, or only about what England wants and about those who are powerful in London, but think of those who will lose out most”, the bishop said.

McKeown promised that whatever happens “the main Churches in Ireland, the Catholic and the Protestant Church, must together strengthen the rights of the weak, the poor and the hopeless, as at this time of uncertainty, our role is to strengthen people who have a right to hope and the right to good government”.

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