Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland 'damaged' by EU vote, McDonnell says during debate on Article 50

By Noel McAdam

SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell has urged the Government to recognise that Brexit is already damaging Northern Ireland.

And he urged Brexit Secretary David Davis to accept that a majority of people in the province (56%) voted to remain in the European Union.

"Do you accept that we don't have a devolved administration at the moment and do you have any plans to recognise the Northern Ireland situation and the damage that's been done already to the Northern Ireland economy, particularly our agricultural economy?"he asked.

His comment came as he and colleagues Margaret Ritchie and Mark Durkan joined with SNP MPs in an attempt to prevent a Commons vote reaching the next stage, because they said the Government had failed to properly consult the devolved assemblies.

Mr Davis replied to Mr McDonnell by saying: "Although there is no Executive, individual ministers do stay in place and I wrote to the Executive a week or so ago, asking them to send a representative to each of the joint ministerial committee meetings.

"We are taking very seriously the analysis they provided of industries in Northern Ireland.

"So, you may take it as absolute read that we take the issue of Northern Ireland and protecting Northern Ireland incredibly seriously."

His attempt to ease concerns over the impact of Brexit came as the DUP confirmed it will vote today to trigger the talks to take the UK out of the EU.

Sammy Wilson said that for any region of the country to tell the UK what to do would be "detrimental to the Union".

Speaking as MPs debated legislation to kick-start Article 50, the East Antrim MP said his own constituents had voted 55% to 45% to leave.

But independent North Down MP Lady Hermon asked how the DUP intended to "respect the fact" that a majority in Northern Ireland as a whole voted to remain.

Mr Wilson said he had campaigned "as a member of the UK Parliament", which represents the whole UK, and "not on some narrow regional basis".

Northern Ireland-born Labour MP Kate Hoey said: "In my view, it is all about taking back control of our own country."

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