Thursday 19 October 2017

'Designated status must be sought for Northern Ireland' - Oireachtas committee

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Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Designated special status for Northern Ireland within the European Union must be sought during the Brexit negotiations, an Oireachtas Committee has concluded.

The Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation said that special status should include access to the single market for the north as well as continued access to all EU funding streams, access to EU institutions such as the European Courts of Justice and Human Rights, and the protection of EU rights pertaining to employment, social security and healthcare.

The committee launched a report this morning on the impact of Brexit with an emphasis on jobs and enterprise.

The report also recommended that a nationwide campaign be launched to increase awareness surrounding the risks of Brexit to SMEs, both directly and indirectly involved in exporting to the UK, and those in vulnerable sectors. The campaign should also direct business to any aids that are in place that would help them deal with the fallout from the vote, the committee said.

Committee Chair Mary Butler said the uncertainty created by the decision of the UK to leave the European Union has already begun to have a negative impact on the Irish economy.

“The UK is one of Ireland’s closest economic partners and, as such, Ireland is very exposed to the effects of Brexit,” Ms Butler said.

“During our hearings, we heard from numerous witnesses that any imposition of border controls and tariffs between Ireland and the UK would negatively impact Ireland’s trade with the UK. The ease of travel that currently exists between north and south is one of the cornerstones of the Good Friday Agreement and is a boon to border economies.

“We are therefore recommending designated special status for Northern Ireland within the EU in order to protect both the peace process and the Northern economy from turmoil.”

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