Farry disappointed First and deputy First Minister not pressing UK Government on right to remain

Alliance Economy spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has hit out at the First Minister and deputy First Minister for not recognising the need to prioritise the right for existing EU nationals to remain post-Brexit.

Dr Farry said such a right should not be used as a bargaining chip but rather granted as an act of good faith across the EU. The information came to light in an answer to a written question by Dr Farry to the First and deputy First Minister.

“I am disappointed the joint heads of the Executive do not understand the importance of giving certainty as early as possible to existing EU nationals living and working across the UK. This has been a key demand in the wake of the Brexit vote from the individuals affected and businesses,” he said.

“Many EU nationals have dug deep roots into our community and the UK Government should not be playing politics with people’s lives – they are not pawns to be traded in return for the rights of UK nationals elsewhere in the EU.

“The UK Government should unilaterally declare a right to remain for existing EU nationals – it would be something that would set a positive context for negotiations and something manifestly in our economic and societal interest.

“Given what has been said by many stakeholders both in Northern Ireland and across the UK, I am surprised our Executive is not seeking to press this matter with vigour.”

Question from Stephen Farry (AQW 3398/16-21)

To ask the First Minister and deputy First Minister why their letter to the Prime Minister of 10 August 2016 regarding Brexit made no reference to the need to provide reassurance to existing EU Nationals living and working in Northern Ireland on their entitlement to remain following an exit from the European Union.

Answer (27 September)

Our letter to the Prime Minister was intended to draw attention to a number of strategically significant and, to some extent, unique matters. It was not an exhaustive list, but did endorse the stated determination of the Prime Minister that the border should not become a barrier to the free movement of people, goods and services. The letter also made clear that we expect to be fully involved and represented in negotiations on the terms of our future relationships with the EU and other countries. The implications for EU nationals will be considered as part of this process

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