Belfast | Catalonia, Scotland and Northern Ireland beyond Brexit
DIPLOCAT organised today an academic event on the political and economic consequences of Brexit at the Queen's University of Belfast
The Public Diplomacy Council of Catalonia (Diplocat), together with the Institute of Irish Studies of the Queen's University in Belfast, organised the academic conference "Stateless nations of the European Union in the shadow of Brexit: Catalonia, Northern Ireland and Scotland" this afternoon at the noble Senate Room of the University. One of the conclusions of the debate was that if both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted against Brexit, there has to be a democratic way to keep them within the EU. For Catalonia, the main interest of Brexit is to analyse the response of the EU, as it might influence the independence debate at home.
The director of the Institute of Irish Studies, Peter Gray, addressed some welcome words to the audience in the name of the University. The Secretary General of Diplocat, Albert Royo, joined him in the welcome and asked in his speech that "the EU should deal appropriately with cases like those of Catalonia, Scotland, Northern Ireland or Gibraltar, protecting the rights of all EU citizens, guaranteeing peace, democracy and stability, and including those nations that want to stay within the Union".
Round table on the political implications of Brexit
Two round tables followed. The first one focused on the political impact of Brexit. Maria Badia, Secretary for Foreign and EU Affairs of the Government of Catalonia, referred to the many open questions left by Brexit, but showed her convincement that the EU "will adapt to new situations with pragmatism, as it also did with the German reunification" and that the demands of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Catalonia "must be part of the EU solution and not part of the problem". Chris Bambery, former Public Point of Contact for the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) of the British Parliament on Catalonia, remarked that "at a moment of ugly nationalisms in Europe, there are two examples of civic and inclusive nationalisms: the Scottish and the Catalan". On the Brexit issue, Bambery said that "if Scotland and Northern Ireland have voted to stay in the EU, they have the right to stay and there has to be a democratic way to it".
Alex Maskey MLA (Northern Ireland Legislative Assembly, Sinn Féin), made clear that his party wants many things in the EU changed, but is against Brexit. Aware that Brexit could be an opportunity for reunification, he insisted that they prefer to "go deeper into the political way involved in the Good Friday Agreement". Jane Morrice, member of the European Economic and Social Committee and former member and Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, advocated for "imaginative solutions" and suggested that Northern Ireland might become "an honorary member of the EU, staying in the UK but with no borders with the rest of Ireland, as a recognition to the peace process". Freelance journalist Amanda Ferguson chaired this round table.
Round table on the impact of Brexit from an economic point of view
In the second round table, professors and European experts discussed on the economic impact of Brexit. They analysed possible trade and fiscal effects and imagined future scenarios, both for Scotland and Northern Ireland and for the rest of the UK, but recognised that foresights on the real economic dimension of Brexit are neither clear nor concrete. The participants were Katy Hayward, Senior Lecturer at The Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice at Queen’s University of Belfast; Katerina Lisenkova, Head of Economic Modelling at the Fraser of Allander Institute; Clara Ponsatí, Head of the School of Economics and Finance at the University of St Andrews; and Aidan Regan, Director of the Dublin European Institute. The chairman was Peter Geoghegan, Irish writer, journalist and lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland.
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The Institute of Irish Studies celebrated its 50th birthday in March 2015. It was the first body of its kind to be established in the world. Today it is one of the leading centres for research-led teaching in Irish Studies and is an internationally renowned centre of interdisciplinary Irish scholarship. The Institute has provided a home for Emeritus Professors, research fellows and students alike, making an enormous contribution to the interdisciplinary field of studies. Our programmes include a MA in Irish Studies, PhDs, our International Summer School, bespoke short study programmes and interdisciplinary Seminar Programmes.
Last updated: 20 June 2017