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EU referendum: Vote Leave to regain control of Northern Ireland's future, Foster urges voters

By Margaret Canning

Published 17/06/2016

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster

First Minister Arlene Foster today urges readers of the Belfast Telegraph to vote Leave in the EU referendum "to take back control of our future".

The DUP leader said her belief that a Leave vote in next Thursday's run-off was correct had grown throughout the course of the campaign.

>>Read:  Arlene Foster writes exclusively for the Belfast Telegraph<<

Writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, Mrs Foster said that as a believer in devolution, "decisions should be as close to the people as possible".

She also claimed the EU was instead pulling power and decision-making away from people - and that Northern Ireland would be able to make more decisions of its own if it was outside the EU.

"A return of powers would not simply flow to London but to Belfast, too," she wrote.

The First Minister, who first indicated she was pro-Brexit in February, said EU law had acted against Northern Ireland's interests.

She claimed the Azores ruling - which means Stormont must pay for tax cuts through reductions to Northern Ireland's block grant from Westminster - had made it more difficult to devolve corporation tax.

She also said "EU rules for ports" will hurt Belfast Harbour.

British port authorities lobbied earlier this year for the rejection of the EU Port Services Regulation due to fears that it would harm their business and workers. The regulation introduced rules on the transparency of public funding and the market access of port services.

But the First Minister said: "It was opposed by our government and our MEPs. It is happening anyway."

She said that Northern Ireland "has done better" from EU money than other UK nations but said the country was now receiving less than it had in the past.

And she said the trading benefits of being in the European Union were now "more of a promise than a reality."

And the former Enterprise Minister said her experience in that position had encouraged her to believe that Northern Ireland businesses could go after opportunities in the future.

She hit out at what she called the "scare stories" of the Leave campaign and said its treatment of Northern Ireland had filled her with "deep frustration".

"What has angered me the most has been the purported threats to our peace," she said.

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