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October 31, 2016: Northern Ireland’s Minister of Finance on Brexit

Eve Sweetser (Chair Celtic Studies), Eric Falci (Chair Irish Studies), Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir and IES Director Jeroen Dewulf

In cooperation with the UC Berkeley Celtic Studies Program, the UC Berkeley Center for Executive Education and the Consulate General of Ireland, San Francisco, IES was honored to welcome Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, the Minister of Finance of the Northern Ireland Assembly to the Berkeley campus.

To begin his talk, Ó Muilleoir described his entry into the political realm through his election as a council member of Belfast in 1981 during the tumult of Northern Ireland’s hunger strikes. Belfast, now a vibrant capital, faces a serious threat to its future as a flourishing and progressive city—Brexit. Following the United Kingdom’s referendum to leave the European Union, Northern Ireland, 56% of whose population opposed such a secession, will resultantly be subjected to a shift that will harm its economy, which has already experienced a slow rate of growth (a 1% increase in comparison to the Republic of Ireland’s 4% increase). Ó Muilleoir ultimately appealed to Irish Americans, calling for their support of Northern Ireland’s display of democracy through pressuring the British Parliament to honor the Northern Irish majority vote; through such forms of advocacy, he argued, that Northern Ireland’s voice will ultimately be heard. Following the talk, the impassioned discussion that took place between the fifty invited attendees and Ó Muilleoir highlighted the complex of concerns surrounding the outcome of Brexit, in particular in regard to the relations between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Minister Ó Muilleoir with UC Berkeley and BCC students

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