Special Brexit deal for Northern Ireland not a threat to sovereignty, says Long

A special deal for Northern Ireland in any Brexit arrangements are in keeping with the terms of devolution, not a threat to sovereignty of the region, Alliance Leader Naomi Long MLA has said.

Mrs Long was speaking during the fourth All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit, taking place today in Dundalk. The Alliance Leader was one of a number of politicians to address the event, hosted by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier is keynote speaker at the meeting.

“Alliance remains frustrated with the lack of clarity in the UK Government position in negotiations so far. They have created a trilemma of contrary objectives – avoiding a hard border within the island of Ireland, for the UK as whole to leave both the customs union and the single market, and to rule out any special arrangements for Northern Ireland in relation to a customs union and single market,” she said.

“Short of a reconsideration of the entire Brexit project itself, the sensible and obvious approach is for the UK as a whole entering into a fresh customs union with the EU, and if not the entire UK remaining in the single market, then at least Northern Ireland doing so.

“The Brexit challenge in Northern Ireland is unique, therefore we need a unique solution, and the Good Friday Agreement and devolution provide a basis for delivering that. Any special deal for Northern Ireland is entirely in keeping with that, including the principle of consent.

“This cannot and should not become entangled in a debate about sovereignty. It was recognised with devolution the UK required tailored solutions for different regions and never has this been more the case than in addressing Brexit, where the support for leaving the EU and the challenges created by doing so vary enormously across the regions.”

Naomi Long’s full speech to the All-Island Civic Dialogue on Brexit is available here.
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