Northern Ireland’s leading pro-European organisation, the European Movement in Northern Ireland (EMNI), has reacted to the developing news following the Prime Minister’s Brexit speech and the collapse of the NI Executive at Stormont.
EMNI Chair Ian Parsley said:
“We are deeply concerned that the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive with no pre-existing ‘Brexit Plan’ will result in Northern Ireland’s distinct interests not being heard as Article 50 is triggered.
“The Prime Minister’s statement puts to an end the fantasy that the UK could remain in the Single Market outside the EU. This was never a realistic option, yet many senior politicians and civic voices presented it as one during the referendum campaign.
“Yet again, therefore, we see that the referendum outcome, based as it was on a hugely misleading campaign, is leading to a fundamental change in social model which will be to the detriment of public services and of business’s ability to trade with our main market. Additionally, as nearly three quarters of imports to Northern Ireland come from the EU, we will see the cost of living rise.”
In relation to the news that elections will take place on March 2 in Northern Ireland, Ian added:
“It is essential, therefore, that stability is returned to the Northern Ireland Executive after the election so that Ministers can challenge this folly on all our behalves.”
The Deputy Chair of EMNI, Ciaran Hanna welcomed the commitment by the PM to try and keep the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK and the decision to give Parliament a vote on the final UK/EU deal.
“The last thing we need is a hard border back in Northern Ireland, so we will have to keep up the pressure during the negotiations. The collapse of the institutions shows just how irresponsible it was for the DUP to argue for Leaving the EU. Instability was the last thing we needed. Where is the plan? Businesses need to know what will happen now we’re leaving the Single European Market and Customs Union.”
Ciaran added there should be a referendum on the deal:
“The people should have their say on the final UK/EU deal.”