The European Union (EU) will not leave Ireland’s side in relation to Brexit, the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola has told the Dáil.
In a joint address to TDs and senators on Thursday, Ms Metsola also said the EU would stand with Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.
Ms Metsola said the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union was something the EU “regrets, but respects as a democratic choice of a majority of British people”.
“Let me say that the European Union has not wavered in its solidarity with Ireland, and that it is with civility and respect for the rule of law that the European Union and the United Kingdom will pursue their relationship and we will not leave your side,” she said.
The European Parliament president said the EU was not some “faraway entity deciding for you, it is you”.
“Ireland is Europe and Europe is Ireland. There is no decision that is taken without you. Dublin, Cork, Galway are the heart of Europe,” Ms Metsola said.
“When 10 people lost their lives in Creeslough, we cried with you. When journalists like Veronica Guerin are killed for speaking out, we share your outrage and your determination for justice.
“When Ireland faced uncertainty in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, your position was our position. We went through all of that together and we will stay together.”
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A number of Irish MEPs and Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O’Neill were present in the chamber for Ms Metsola’s address, who received a standing round of applause.
Ms Metsola said the story of Ireland, as previously noted by former US president Barack Obama, was “one of beating the odds” – of struggle, sacrifice, defiance, and emerging stronger.
“Lessons that Europe will need to draw on face the year ahead because make no mistake we are living in times of polycrises,” she said.
“War, energy scarcity, electricity prices spiking, cost of living increases and inflation wiping value of assets, interest rates impacting government borrowing and housing markets, scarcity of raw materials and a global food shortage, one short port blockage away, this framed in the context of our still ongoing recovery from the pandemic, the climate emergency and living through increased economic pressure from east and west, which is impacting our competitiveness.
“This has meant that families struggle to stretch their wages to the end of the month. It has meant increased social pressure. People in Europe having to choose between feeding their children and heating their homes. It has meant increased homelessness and hopelessness. The challenges are clear across Europe but I know that we can meet this moment head on.”
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said EU membership had amplified Ireland’s voice in the world, and that funding for local communities and access to the single market had transformed the country.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald called on the EU to “act forcefully for peace in the Middle East”.
People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett, said it was “long past time” the EU accepted its role in creating the housing crisis through its support for “cruel and brutal” austerity measures following the economic collapse.