Article 50 should not be triggered without recognition of special circumstances of Northern Ireland, says Farry

Alliance Brexit Spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said specific issues relating to Northern Ireland must be addressed before Article 50 can be triggered, adding local MPs must insist on a deal before supporting any legislation.

The Alliance Deputy Leader was speaking after the Supreme Court ruled Parliament must give the go-ahead on the Brexit process beginning, adding the devolved assemblies do not need to be consulted over the matter.

Dr Farry said there were wider economic, political and constitutional factors which must be addressed.

“The ruling does not negate the very real implications for devolution across the UK, and in particular the consequences for Northern Ireland, which are set to be most severe.

“The Government has been arguing the Good Friday Agreement is not affected by Brexit. Even if this is accepted, the point only applies in the most literal sense. In practical terms, the terms of the Agreement are given effect by the EU – people here can live, work and trade on both a north-south and east-west basis without meaningful impediment. The EU, including both the Single Market and the Customs Union, are much greater enablers of this than the much narrower common travel area.

“Northern Ireland is a place apart with some particular features, including an integrated all-island economy, the right of people to have Irish and therefore European citizenship, and the land border. The case for some form of special status is overwhelming.

“Alliance maintains no Northern Ireland MP should support the triggering of Article 50 without first securing a commitment from the Government they will seek to negotiate special arrangements for Northern Ireland. We would encourage other MPs to also adopt this approach.”

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