More assurances needed from Prime Minister on Brexit

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry has said more concrete assurances are needed from the Prime Minister around Northern Ireland’s status in the wake of any Brexit.

He was speaking after it was revealed today via the Nolan Show Theresa May had responded to the First Minister and deputy First Minister’s August letter in relation to their priorities following the EU referendum, mentioning five key areas – the border, trading costs, energy, EU funding and the agri-food sector.

Dr Farry added it was disappointing the reply was only discovered after being mentioned in the media, despite a Brexit-related debate taking place in the Assembly yesterday.

“This letter is just words, which do little to address the specific issues raised by the First Minister and deputy First Minister, let alone the many other issues facing Northern Ireland, which they failed to raise in their original letter.

“It is natural for the UK Government to say they don’t want to see Northern Ireland suffering from the loss of free movement of people and goods or the loss of structural funds. But the big contradiction are the comments from that same Government over the past few weeks, which suggest they will be pursuing a hard Brexit.

“Any such process would make it even more difficult to achieve the aspirations the Prime Minister has expressed in her letter. In that context, active consideration must be given to giving special status to Northern Ireland. However, we require more concrete assurances as to the specific measures that can be considered to help this region.

“Once again, it is disappointing we are hearing developments relative to Brexit in the media first, instead of the chamber. There is a major accountability deficit from the First Minister and deputy First Minister, who have yet to even mention the Prime Minister’s response to the Assembly.”

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