A MEMBER of Die Linke - the successor to Erich Honecker’s East German communists - told a Martina Anderson organised conference in Brussels that if Sinn Féin wants to unify the island of Ireland it must benefit all people.
Gabi Zimmer was one of a number of European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL) MEPs - an alliance of communists and hard leftists from across the EU - who attended the conference in the salubrious European quarter of the Belgian capital.
Ms Zimmer, the GUE/NGL President, warned that German re-unification in 1990 didn’t benefit everyone.
She said: “The GUE/NGL has always supported the peace process in Ireland. From the German experience unification did not benefit everybody. To be successful the Irish process of unification must be better - it must benefit all people.”
Ms Zimmer claimed her Irish colleagues needed to ensure those who managed the ‘Celtic Tiger’ don’t try use “Irish unification for their own financial benefit.”
“From visits to Ireland I have seen that there is still a lot of work to be done to remove the border in Ireland. There is an urgent need for cross-border infrastructure – something that the EU should prioritise in its structural funding. We have seen how the Irish ‘Celtic Tiger’ did not benefit everybody,” she said.
“How can we ensure that those who managed the ‘Celtic Tiger’ for their own economic benefit do not try to abuse a process of Irish unification for their own financial benefit – against the interests of the majority of the people?” she asked.
The conference was also addressed by a ‘Brits out’ communist, Takis Hadjigeorgiou, whose party AKEL, seeks the reunification of a sunnier island in the Mediterranean.
The Cypriot MEP said: “The future of Ireland remains with the people and they should decide on the unification of their own country.
“Today, with millions of families that struggle to makes ends meet in Europe, people continue to experience war - an economic war.
“We need to expand people’s right to change their fate and this will only happen if the democratic forces of the left in Europe can take power,” he said.
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson said she organised the conference because the replacement of the Government of Ireland Act 1920 with the Northern Ireland Act 1998 ended “the British government’s policy against unity.”
She stated: “Those who continue to oppose reunification premise their argument on the basis that a new and United Ireland is not economically sustainable, and is completely dependent financially on British state subvention.
“This argument relies on what can only be described as ‘guesstimates’ from the British Government. We would be very foolish to take British Treasury figures in relation to the North of Ireland at face value.
“Ireland cannot afford partition: an island nation of 6.5 million people duplicating funding for two separate health, education, agriculture, tourism and road systems; having two tax, currency and legal systems makes no economic sense.”