Bill Clinton warns Northern Ireland will get ‘whacked’ by Brexit
Northern Ireland will get “whacked” if Britain votes to leave the European Union, former US president Bill Clinton has said.
Mr Clinton stated his support for the UK remaining in a reformed EU and expressed concern about the effects of Brexit upon peace in Northern Ireland.
The former president, who helped broker the peace deal in 1998, also took a swipe at supporters of leaving the European Union.
“It’s Northern Ireland that will really get whacked if Britain withdrew from the European Union,” he said.
“And I hope they don’t because it’s too easy to believe that the only solution to the problems in the world is to hunker down.”
Irish prime minister Enda Kenny last year warned that Brexit could disrupt the peace process in Northern Ireland, arguing that the EU had been "an enabler of peace" by helping to bring Loyalists and Republicans together.
Mr Clinton was speaking at an event in which he received a lifetime achievement award for his part in the historic peace agreement of 1998.
Marking the centenary of the Easter Rising, he praised the objective of the rebels to create an Irish republic and said the lessons of 1916 could be extrapolated and applied to issues faced today.
“It’s a dangerous world out there. It’s easy to turn away, but it’s better to find a way to move forward because the enemies of freedom, the people who don’t believe in diversity, will always find a way to pierce the walls,” he said.
“We can never let our hearts to turn to stone, and we can never let things fall apart so much that we cannot build a centre where the future of our children counts more than the scars of our past.
“That is the ultimate lesson of every single thing that has happened from 100 years ago since that declaration was issued and all that has happened since 1995.”
Speaking at a CBI conference in London last year, Mr Kenny said: "Common membership of the EU project is part of the glue holding that transition process together.
“We have come through a difficult few months politically in Northern Ireland. But I remain optimistic.
“I believe that Northern Ireland can leave the past behind and become a dynamic economy that will benefit not only the UK but the island of Ireland.”