Donegal County Council has agreed, after a vote, to call on the government to give the two extra MEP seats allocated for Ireland post-Brexit to the people of Northern Ireland.
Ireland is set to be allocated two more EU Parliament seats when the UK leaves the union and their 73 MEP positions.
Sinn Fein councillor Gerry McMonagle was met with some debate in the Lifford council chamber today after suggesting that Donegal County Council backs a Sinn Fein submission to hand the two extra seats to Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland currently has three MEP seats. Cllr McMonagle has asked for the Irish Government to make changes to allow citizens in the north to keep their representation in Europe and allow candidates in the north to stand for election and vote for candidates.
Cllr McMonagle pointed out that the majority of Northern Ireland voted against Brexit and are set to lose their EU rights and inclusion in schemes when the UK pulls out of the EU.
“The allocation of the two new seats to the North would ensure that citizens from Derry to Kerry would have a voice in Europe,” he said.
Cllr McMonagle added that ensuring representation of the North in EU Parliament is a key part of continuing the peace process.
The motion was opposed by Cllr Nicholas Crossan, who was seconded by Cllr Ian McGarvey.
Cllr Crossan said Ireland is underrepresented in the EU and argued that the two seats should not be handed to the north.
“I think Brexit is the biggest farce since Y2K,” Cllr Crossan said, adding: “I don’t believe that there is going to be a border, it’s outrageous to even think that.”
Cllr McMonagle said he was frightened by the fact that some councillors do not believe that there will be a hard border and customs checks in the future.
He added: “There is a general acceptance that the North is a special case. What I’m saying is that they are Irish citizens, the option is that we give them political representation through the EU.”
Donegal Councillors voted 18-5 in favour of Cllr McMonagle’s motion. Cllrs Niamh Kennedy and Martin Harley abstained from voting.
As the motion was passed, the executive agreed to write to Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government to call on the Irish Government to facilitate the change in legislation that would allocate the two new MEP seats to the north.