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Fresh move to give NI its say in Brexit negotiations

By Michael McHugh

Political, business and community leaders have joined forces to push for Northern Ireland's interests in the Brexit talks.

Ulster Unionist Steve Aiken, chairman of the new Independent Council on Europe, said it was "high time that Northern Ireland begins to assert itself amidst the uncertainty of Brexit".

"The Scottish and Welsh governments have already produced comprehensive papers on how they view their future place in Europe," he added. "Sadly, the political inertia and instability here means we lag behind.

"Our council is determined to fill the vacuum left by poor political leadership at Stormont and produce our own paper on how Northern Ireland can best navigate the choppy seas of Brexit."

The group's vice-chairman, SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell, said one of his deepest fears was the border. "Platitudes from the Prime Minister and Secretary of State about no return to the borders of the past will not wash," he added.

"The current course of action would suggest that we are heading for a hard border, with customs and excise checks."

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