Launching the document, entitled The Case for Special Status: A Paper on How to Mitigate the Impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland, Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry said it was the greatest challenge facing our region.
“Brexit will have deep implications for the economic position and global standing of the UK, and throws up particular challenges for the Republic of Ireland.
“Alliance supported the Remain side in the referendum. Our current position is the UK as a whole should reconsider leaving the EU. If that is not on the agenda, our preference is for the softest Brexit possible, including continued membership of the Single Market and adherence to the Four Fundamental Freedoms – around the freedom of movement of workers, goods, services and capital – and membership of the Customs Union and Common External Tariff.
“Independent of these considerations, but nevertheless shaped by them, Alliance will continue to argue for special arrangements to be negotiated and put in place for Northern Ireland, and for this region to be accorded a Special Status in terms of either continued associate membership of the EU or a bespoke relationship with it.
“In our paper, we explore five key aspects of Brexit that will have a disproportionate impact on Northern Ireland and the wider island of Ireland. They are the likely creation of a physical border, implications for the Good Friday Agreement, policing and security, finances and economics.
“The case for special status is clear. The choice is not really between Northern Ireland with a formal Special Status and simply exiting the EU alongside the rest of the UK. Rather we must recognise there are simply too many features particular to Northern Ireland such as rights to EU citizenship through to the integrated nature of an all-island economy in sectors such as agri-food that make the choice between a managed Special Status or this region being a major and chaotic anomaly.
“For us, Special Status entails Northern Ireland remaining within the Customs Union, the Single Market and adhering to the Four Fundamental Freedoms.
“It would be best if Northern Ireland had a functioning and cohesive Government that could make this case. There is a receptive audience that understands the deep implications to Northern Ireland across the EU.
“But that window of opportunity will close if there is not a strong and coherent ask from Northern Ireland. Alliance is committed to getting a working and effective government in place, and in the interim will work with other parties, the business community and civil society to further develop in more detail how a model of Special Status could look.”
You can see Alliance’s Brexit document here.