Bernadette McAliskey: Brexit gives boost to naked racism

Bernadette McAliskey, Co-Ordinator of STEP
Bernadette McAliskey, Co-Ordinator of STEP

The Brexit body blow has strengthened anti-immigration thinking and “naked racism”, leading civil rights campaigner, Bernadette McAliskey, has told the TIMES.

As the value of Sterling spiralled in the early hours of Friday morning, the former Mid Ulster MP, who heads up Dungannon based community development organisation, South Tyrone Empowerment Programme (STEP), also expressed her view that the EU Referendum decision would hit the most vulnerable in our society the hardest.

Mrs McAliskey said: “Politically the Right wing of British and European politics along with anti-immigration and naked racism has been strengthened by the Brexit victory.

“The impact of that will shape the continent of Europe beyond the EU in the coming years, but for the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, which includes large numbers of immigrant workers, today and tomorrow just got instantly harder.

“They have no belt left to tighten until the financial uncertainty blows over; no room to manoeuvre while the talking heads now wisely acknowledge nobody really knows what will happen next and that whatever it is will take time.

“Meanwhile, the fall of the value of sterling means the cost of the things they need will increase; benefits will not; wages will not.

“They have no space in their lives which allows them the luxury of planning for that uncertainty. They can barely survive the impact of existing austerity.”

Locally, the constituences of Mid Ulster and Fermanagh-South Tyrone recorded Remain votes of 60.4% and 58.6% respectively.

In total, 25,612 Remain votes were cast in Mid Ulster, with 16,799 votes for Leave.

In Fermanagh-South Tyrone, 28,200 Remain votes were cast, while 19,958 Leave votes were registered.

Despite Sinn Fein calls for a border poll in the wake of the EU Referendum result, Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, ruled that out.

Ms Villiers said the circumstances in which a border poll would be called did not exist.

Nothing indicated that such a poll should be called, she said.

“The Good Friday Agreement is very clear that the circumstances where the secretary of state is required to have a border poll is where there is reason to believe there would be a majority support for a united Ireland,” she said,

“There is nothing to indicate that in any of the opinion surveys that have taken place. Again and again they demonstrate that a significant majority of people in Northern Ireland are content with the political settlement established under the Belfast Agreement and Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.”