Executive must not miss opportunity of NSMC to devise better response to Brexit

Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has called for the Executive to use the opportunity of Friday’s North-South Ministerial Council meeting to develop solutions to the challenges poised by Brexit to both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland.

Dr Farry said the Council must address their failure to articulate a coherent position regarding the steps required to address the specific circumstances of Northern Ireland, and so opportunities to articulate these requirements will begin to pass.

“Northern Ireland is set to be deeply affected by Brexit but we are least advanced in having a robust concept of what special arrangements would look like. The paradox, and even tragedy, is while Northern Ireland may be less advanced than Scotland or Wales in devising a position, we have the greatest opportunity of an understanding of the problems faced and willingness to consider solutions within the EU and the wider international community. But they will want to know what is our ask.

“To date, the joint letter from the First Minister and deputy First Minister in August to the Prime Minister was not comprehensive in citing all of the issues and didn’t provide any proposed solutions – it was lowest common denominator, as there are deep divisions between the DUP and Sinn Fein on the way forward.

“Civic society, the business community and other political parties can fill this void through developing coherent proposals on how special status for Northern Ireland could look, but ultimately the ask to the British and Irish Governments, and to the EU, needs to come from our own government.

“Alliance is clear the choice here is not between a one-size-fits-all Brexit for the UK as a whole and special status for Northern Ireland, but rather between negotiating a special arrangement or leaving a massive mess as there are simply too many particular features to our situation such as protecting the Good Friday Agreement, the border, the nature of the local economy and the automatic right to Irish/EU citizenship.

“Time will quickly begin to pass by unless opportunities such as this NSMC meeting are not grasped.”

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