Belfast Telegraph

Friday 27 May 2016

EU trade supports one in eight jobs in Northern Ireland, say campaigners

Published 24/02/2016

Vernon Coaker said Brexit would create uncertainty over links between Northern Ireland and the Republic
Vernon Coaker said Brexit would create uncertainty over links between Northern Ireland and the Republic

Trade with Europe supports one in eight jobs in Northern Ireland, pro-European campaigners have said.

Manufacturing is by far the most reliant sector.

The Peace programme, agriculture and security could also be threatened by Brexit, according to the Britain Stronger In Europe lobby group, which includes prominent Westminster politicians.

Will Straw, executive director of Britain Stronger In Europe, said: "People in Northern Ireland are stronger, safer and better off because of our membership of the European Union.

"Our EU membership supports 111,480 jobs in Northern Ireland and enables our businesses to trade freely in the world's largest free trade zone. It is good for jobs, good for business and good for workers."

He said those posts were equivalent to one in eight workers in 2011.

The figures showed 53,614 positions were underpinned by European trade in manufacturing, 7,098 in motor trades and 5,366 in accommodation and food services.

The European Arrest Warrant had been used to remove 150 criminals from Northern Ireland and bring 27 to face justice since 2010, the figures showed.

Former Labour home secretary Alan Johnson is campaigning to remain in Europe and was due to visit Belfast to launch the campaign in Northern Ireland but cancelled.

Vernon Coaker, shadow Northern Ireland secretary , joined Mr Straw for a tour of the Science Park in the Titanic Quarter, where they visited facilities working on cyber security and innovation.

Mr Coaker said Brexit would create uncertainty over links between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

He added: "If Northern Ireland comes out of the EU what does that mean?

"What does it mean for people criss-crossing the border? It becomes an important issue.

"Everybody seems to say it will be all right, don't worry, that is fine but the risk and uncertainty around that is enormous."

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has clashed with Downing Street by claiming that David Cameron's deal changing Britain's relationship with the EU is not legally binding and could be overturned by a prominent European court.

Mr Straw said it was being endorsed at the UN on Wednesday.

"I think it is unfortunate timing for Michael Gove to make these rather spurious claims because it is being entrenched in international law and will be binding.

"The European Court of Justice has to pay attention to this agreement. It would be extraordinary if an agreement by heads of government agreed unanimously was overturned by the European Court of Justice and it is absolutely clear that the hard-fought reforms that the Prime Minister achieved on Friday are legally binding and will stand."

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