The European Movement in Northern Ireland (EMNI) has welcomed the decision of Northern Ireland to Remain in the European Union, but expressed disappointment at the overall UK result.
Northern Ireland voted to remain by 55.8 % to 44.2% Leave.
The Movement recognises the democratic decision of the UK, and that the UK as a whole voted to Leave.
Chair of the EMNI, Ian Parsley, congratulated the Northern Ireland Stronger In campaign on delivering a majority “Remain” vote in Northern Ireland, and said that the work of the European Movement will never be so important than it is over the next three years.
Mr Parsley stated:
“The referendum result has produced a profound sense of shock among many people in Northern Ireland, including those who take little interest in politics and, in particular, many young people who overwhelmingly favour remaining part of the EU. Nevertheless, as democrats we must accept the result across the UK.
“As a Movement, we exist to promote European co-operation with the particular objective of promoting peace, democracy and free trade across the continent.
“We now enter an uncertain period during which the UK Government under a new Prime Minister will enter into negotiations with the European Union about future relationships.”
-Ian Parsley, Chair EMNI
Ciarán Hanna, who was present at the NI Count in the Titanic Exhibition Centre in Belfast, said it was a bitter sweet night.
“While it was great NI voted to Remain, I am personally disappointed at the overall result which will take Northern Ireland out of the EU. Personally, I believe the themes of the EU (internationalism, solidarity, reconciliation, co-operation) were important for NI. “
European Movement Ireland, the sister organisation of EMNI, has noted the result.
Maurice Pratt, Chairperson of European Movement Ireland said:
“Now is the time for a period of reflection and calm as we look to assess the outcome of yesterday’s result.”
“Our focus will now turn to how best engage with the UK in a different framework. Nonetheless, we will continue to preserve the important and strong relationships that exist between Ireland and the UK, one which had been normalised and underpinned by our common membership of the EU.”
In terms of the role of the European Movement in Northern Ireland for the years ahead, Ian Parsley added:
“I think our Movement here in Northern Ireland should be clear. Any restriction on the ability of young people to seek opportunities in research, study or work across 27 other European countries must be defeated. Any limitation on our ability to trade goods and services freely across the border must be opposed. Any hindrance in our ability to fight crime, such as with the European Arrest Warrant and hot pursuit protocols, must be challenged.
“The European Movement here will now, therefore, become just that. It will be a Movement for those who do not wish to see free movement restricted, or barriers to free trade imposed, or our security put at risk. We will challenge and oppose any outcome which does any of these, because they are essential to all of our futures, and particularly for our young people.
“We would urge anyone who shares our objectives to join us. It is all to play for during these negotiations and, as democrats, we will expect the people to be involved in shaping them and consulted again on the outcome.”