Posted on 12/03/2021Comments Off on PETER BENSON

When did you first attend the SODEM protest outside Parliament and why did you come? 

December 2018. I am an EU (Irish) Citizen but keeping the UK in the EU  was essential to the Good Friday Agreement and maintaining access to Erasmus. 

Roughly how old are you?

Cheeky. Over 50.

How frequently did you come and when was the last time you attended?

Weekly several times until January 2020, but I’m turning up on June 24th, 2021, as well! 

How far from Westminster do you live and what was your travelling time?

Approximately 15 miles, about an hour. 

What’s your favourite memory?

The people and friendships I have made, but especially campaigning with the crew from NE4EU.

Tell me your story

Growing up in Ireland during the height of troubles I still have memories of that period. There were signs then on every bridge and country wall saying “Brits out” or” Brits not welcome here”. I remember crossing the “hard  border” with my parents, soldiers’ guns pointing at us, as we drove through the checkpoint.  I had the privilege of meeting John Hume MP in Derry, when I was about 20, and that memory has always stuck with me. The hotel where we met was blown up the following weekend. Moving to London terrorism was on the streets of the capital and throughout the UK for many years, but the cycle of violence ended with the Good Friday agreement (GFA). This peace agreement means everything to me and one of the co signatures is the EU. Having an opportunity to talk about this peace agreement outside the  British parliament has been a privilege. Meeting others, especially Sinéad Walsh, also from Ireland, and so many others (who also shared this deep desire to maintain peace) was so special. Being able to protest and support, with so many others, the campaign for the UK to remain in the EU  was so important to me. I campaigned with a placard  which said “No Border, No Brexit, Just Peace”.

The close relationship  between the two countries has been severely damaged by Brexit and I have deep fears that terrorism will come back onto the streets of the UK and Ireland. My kids have been denied access to Erasmus  and millions of young people, who are our futures, are being denied the opportunity to work, live, study and love in another EU country freely. I will never stop campaigning for this to be restored.

I will always recall when 3 members of the hard line loyalist party, the DUP, approached me outside the gates of parliament when I was flying my Irish flag. They thanked me for my protest and said that Arlene  Foster and her Brexit views were not their views. Northern Ireland voted by a big majority to stay within the EU.

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