Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has warned that attempts by Sinn Fein to allow Irish passport holders in the United Kingdom to vote in European Parliament elections post-Brexit, would not only go against EU treaties but also violate the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent.
The comments come after MEPs in Strasbourg debated how the UK’s European Parliament seats would be redistributed after its departure from the European Union. Earlier attempts by Sinn Fein to give extra seats to the Republic of Ireland specifically for Northern Ireland residents were rejected at committee stage.
Mr Nicholson said:
“People in Northern Ireland have the right to Irish citizenship if they so wish, and this will remain the case after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union. But having an EU passport does not translate into having voting rights for European Parliament elections. As is the case with local elections, this is because eligibility to vote in European Parliament elections is based on residency rather than citizenship.
“Thankfully sensible MEPs can see through attempts by Sinn Fein and others to undermine the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, and their proposals were rightly rejected at committee stage. The idea of the Republic of Ireland being given extra seats to represent Northern Ireland would not only be contrary to EU treaties, it would also violate the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent, which makes clear that Northern Ireland is an integral part of the United Kingdom for as long as its people wish to remain so. Yet again, it seems that Sinn Fein only support the Agreement when it suits them.”