Fianna Fáil leader supports European Parliament representation for north after Brexit

Micheál Martin supports efforts to secure post-Brexit representation in the European Parliament for Irish citizens living north of the border

Micheál Martin has backed the bid to secure post-Brexit representation in the European Parliament for Irish citizens living north of the border.

The Fine Fáil leader told The Irish News that it was "conceivable" people would be able to cast their vote in future EU elections at polling stations in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin and SDLP have both said they will seek to ensure Irish citizens living in the north will be represented in the European Parliament after Brexit.

The next European elections are scheduled for spring 2019 after the UK leaves the EU.

While the north is on course to lose its three European Parliament seats, there have been calls to provide Irish citizens in the region with direct representation in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Some 500,000 people in Northern Ireland are thought to have an Irish passport, with the Good Friday Agreement allowing anyone to hold both British and Irish citizenship.

Speaking during a visit to Belfast yesterday, Mr Martin said he supported the principle of continued representation for the north.

"In my view, this whole idea of respecting and ensuring that the European citizenship of people in Northern Ireland is given some manifestation and some reflection in the post-Brexit deal, is very, very important" he said.

"In my speech here over 12 months ago I identified that issue – because of the Good Friday Agreement and because Irish citizens in Northern Ireland are also European Union citizens, the ultimate deal should reflect that in all aspects."

The Fianna Fáil leader said he could not see why people would object to the proposal but insisted that the move would not necessarily be linked to the EU Constitutional Committee's recommendation of two additional MEPs for Ireland.

"It may not be just about the re-allocation of seats, it could be a continuation of representation that would citizens to have representation in the European Parliament," he said.

"It would be unique situation – something similar to what happened with Greenland – but I think we should look at that as there's a lot of good feeling in Europe towards the peace process and the unique qualities Northern Ireland represents."

Earlier this week a committee of MEPs recommended that the Republic be allocated an additional two seats in the next mandate.

The south's increased allocation from 11 to 13 MEPs, which is expected to be endorsed by the European Parliament next month, was part of a proposal to redistribute 27 of the UK's seats after Brexit.

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