Dickson criticises Cameron over EU referendum

Alliance Chief Whip Stewart Dickson MLA has criticised today’s speech by Prime Minister David Cameron in which he promised to hold a referendum on the UK’s EU membership. Mr Dickson stated that Northern Ireland benefits financially from several sources of funding that would be lost if the UK left the EU.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: “Northern Ireland as a distinct region is a net beneficiary of the European Union. Through our membership we have had access to a range of funding programmes such as the current Peace III and INTERREG which have provided hundreds of millions of pounds for our local economy and infrastructure.

“It makes sense for Northern Ireland and the UK to remain in the EU, politically, economically and socially. It is not just about funding programmes. It is important for the growth of our economy by ensuring that we continue to belong to the single market. By having access to the economies of the other 26 states, it provides an opportunity to help expand our existing businesses and make Northern Ireland as attractive as possible to investors.

“Having this uncertainty about the UK’s membership hanging over us for the next five years will in turn cause uncertainty for international businesses that may look to invest in countries with more certain, long-term futures in the EU and therefore threaten our fragile economic recovery.

“David Cameron made this announcement to placate the Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party and to try to stifle the growth of UKIP. This is about his party’s internal difficulties; it is not a sensible course of action for a Prime Minister, particularly during an economic downturn.”


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