Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Seán Crowe TD, has called on Iraq and neighbouring countries to end their threats and unhelpful rhetoric regarding the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum, and to instead open meaningful dialogue on the future of the region.

The referendum saw a turnout of 72.61% and 92.73% of the 3,305,925 people who cast ballots voted “Yes” to independence.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“The people of Iraqi Kurdistan have the right to self-determination and the right to democratically decide their own future. According to accounts this referendum was transparent, democratic and overwhelmingly in favour of independence.

“The referendum was not binding and doesn’t immediately trigger a move to independence, but it clearly reflected the democratic will of the people there and it should lead to future discussions with Baghdad.

“I am extremely concerned that the Iraqi Government and other neighbouring countries, which have large Kurdish populations, have reacted with hostile rhetoric and the threats of military action. The military should not be used to attack people’s democratic desire and wish for self-determination.

“The Iraqi Government have announced that all international flights to and from Erbil are to be suspended from Friday and there are threats of blockades by Iraq and neighbouring countries. This not only damages the economy and people’s lives in Iraqi Kurdistan, but also restricts the important fight against Da’esh.

“It is a time for cool heads and for real and meaningful negotiations between the Governments in Erbil and Baghdad on the future of Kurdistan.”