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Martin McGuinness warns Cameron over June date for EU referendum

Published 01/02/2016

Martin McGuinness said it is important that he and Arlene Foster engage with Scotland, Wales and the Prime Minister on the timing of the referendum
Martin McGuinness said it is important that he and Arlene Foster engage with Scotland, Wales and the Prime Minister on the timing of the referendum

Martin McGuinness has warned David Cameron against having a referendum on Europe within a month of elections to Stormont.

A poll is due on a new Northern Ireland Assembly in May.

Public representatives have claimed holding a referendum in June would not allow enough time for a proper debate.

The Deputy First Minister said he shared those fears.

"It is no secret to anybody that I have huge concerns about the prospect that the strategy being adopted by David Cameron effectively is sleepwalking all of us into an exit from Europe."

Democratic Unionists also believe a later vote on the UK's position in Europe would allow more time for proper debate.

Mr McGuinness, who leads Sinn Fein at Stormont, said the question put to people around Europe is even more important.

He said with a June referendum being flagged up, it is important that he and First Minister Arlene Foster engage with Scotland, Wales and the Prime Minister on the timing of the referendum.

"We here would also share concerns about close proximity of a referendum to the elections here."

Mr McGuinness noted most CBI members in Northern Ireland are against exit.

He said the financial implications of an exit could be massive and Common Agricultural Policy funding had been vital to the growth of farming.

The minister warned Northern Ireland is a net beneficiary of European money, including structural and regional development funds used for peace building and cross-border regeneration.

He said loss of funding could be devastating and claimed the British Government had not involved or consulted his Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister about negotiations with European leaders on EU membership.

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