Speaking as it was revealed Belfast City Council was set to debate the issue at a special Council meeting on Monday night – a move backed by Alliance – the South Belfast Councillor described the current lack of leadership as ‘dangerous’, especially at a time when everything possible should be done to reassure the many different communities represented in Belfast.
Councillor Kate Nicholl said: “Seven days have passed since the UK voted to leave the EU and yet we still have had no firm plans or reassurance over what this means for the future of Northern Ireland from the First Minister and deputy First Minister.
“Arlene Foster in particular has a duty to recognise and represent the views of the majority in Northern Ireland who wanted to remain part of the EU, and who have now been left feeling lost and concerned for the future.
“There is genuine concern that we are facing a major loss in funding, with little indication of how it will be plugged, with farm subsidies, peace money and investment in skills all at risk. The First Minister must go into any negotiations with the aim of accommodating the democratic will of the people of Northern Ireland, not the political will of the DUP.
“It is further shocking that no attempts have been made to reassure the many immigrants living in our city, who have made a valuable contribution to building the Belfast we know today.
“We must be clear, Belfast will remain an open and welcoming place, a place that actively works to stamp out hate crime, instead showing support and respect for all immigrants who live and work here.
“In lieu of Leadership from OFMdFM and the Executive, Belfast City Council must fill that void and show our commitment to ensuring the views of the 56 percent who voted remain are heard.”