McDonough Brown ‘we must strengthen culture ties with EU for future’

Alliance Councillor Emmet McDonough Brown has said he’s extremely concerned over reports indicating Belfast’s joint bid to become the 2023 European Capital of Culture could be over.

Describing it as yet another ‘unintended consequence’ of the UK’s decision to leave the EU, Emmet added the DUP in particular had questions to answer over their continued support for Brexit stripping back plans for the joint bid with Derry-Londonderry and Strabane District Council.

“This is a sad day for Northern Ireland and for all who have worked hard on a bid showcasing the best we have to offer,” he said, “yet we may not have heard the last word yet.

“In lieu of a strong Northern Ireland voice, Alliance has been holding a range of key meetings, standing up for Northern Ireland’s future as we face the unknown. Today it is worth noting a unique solution for Northern Ireland has yet to be ruled out and with time still in play to overturn this decision before the December EU Council meeting, the European Commission should not shut the door completely on Northern Ireland’s eligibility via the EEA pathway.

“Our Lord Mayor Councillor Nuala McAllister is currently in London and is seeking an urgent meeting with the Minister for DCMS. This has gone beyond Civil Servants and we need clear. While we don’t know what our relationship with the EU will look like in the wake of Brexit, we need to strengthen our cultural ties now to protect them for the future.

“Of course this will be of little comfort to the many that have put time and effort into our bid, which will still see a strengthening connection between Belfast and Derry-Londonderry as plans for joint culture ventures move forward.

“Despite this the DUP and other pro-Brexit politicians have questions to answer – including how they can still support a Brexit that sees opportunity after opportunity potentially snatched away from Northern Ireland.”

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