By Niamh Harnett
AS THE FIRST MINISTER’S VISIT TO THE IRISH PARLIAMENT COMES TO A CLOSE HER MESSAGE REMAINS, Scotland’s relationship with the EU is still strong.
Nicola Sturgeon is in Ireland to ensure the ties between the countries continue to strengthen as the result of Brexit begins to fade and the future becomes priority.
Eabhnait Ni Laighin Irish citizen and UK resident believes the first minister is taking all the right steps:
“More than ever it’s important to make sure people know this isn’t personal, the decision the UK has made isn’t racially or viciously motivated, it’s what the UK believes is the best for their country. Seeing people like Nicola Sturgeon make the effort with EU citizens is what will make the difference between fear and simple apprehension.”
Sturgeon also used her time in Ireland to warn London that Scotland will be looking for alternatives if driven to a “hard Brexit cliff edge”.
“I have always believed Scotland will become an independent country and I think it will become an independent country well within my lifetime – and this may be the moment for that.”
The idea of “associate citizenship” has also gained backing from both Scots and Guy Vorhofstadt, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator who said he liked the idea “that people who are European citizens and saying they want to keep it have the possibility of doing so”.
However, Sturgeon’s attempts to keep up appearances aren’t soothing everyone’s nerves.
Weronika Puchala a student from Poland studying in UWS has her worries:
“The future is unknown and that’s scary, there’s no concrete plans for Brexit, no one truly knows what will happen with EU people living in the UK. I want to stay positive and believe that I can continue to contribute and be part of the UK, but the unknown is a difficult place to live. Poland is where I’m from but Scotland has become my home.”
With as many as 3.3 million EU nationals currently residing in the UK many are calling for clarity, however Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator said that formal negotiations regarding Brexit and the rights of citizens couldn’t begin until the UK officially triggers Article 50, the timetable for which has officially been thrown into the air after the high court ruling that a parliamentary vote is necessary was made.
In the face of the unknown Eabhnait is keeping an open mind:
“All everyone wants is reassurance, things will change as they always do but I refuse to believe it will all be bad, this is a huge moment in history, being a part of it will be hugely interesting.”