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NI, Ireland EU border creation 'would be retrograde step'

Published 17/11/2015

Lord Dubs is strongly in favour of the UK remaining in the EU
Lord Dubs is strongly in favour of the UK remaining in the EU

A former British government minister has said creating an EU border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be a retrograde step.

Lord Alf Dubs said Brexit endangered the close relations between different parts of the island and argued strongly in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.

Freedom of movement restrictions; border controls and customs checking in Ireland were among concerns raised during a meeting of British and Irish parliamentarians in Cheltenham.

Lord Dubs said: "To have an EU border be at the border with the Republic of Ireland, when we have spent years and years getting rid of the border, would be a retrograde step and could not but help be a break down of that closeness.

"I feel very hopeful that we will stay in the EU."

Lord Dubs, a Labour peer, served as a Northern Ireland Office minister from 1997 to 1999.

Chairman of the Irish Oireachtas Joint Committee on European Union Affairs, Dominic Hannigan TD, briefed the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly on the implications of a possible Brexit for Ireland.

Deputy Hannigan emphasised the importance of Ireland being closely engaged from the outset in all negotiations on the issue of Brexit to reflect and protect the special relationship that exists between the UK and Ireland.

Irish Senator Paschal Mooney said: "There would be a practical implication from an Irish perspective, a loss of influence."

Gordon MacDonald, a Scottish MSP from the SNP, said those who advocated Brexit did not speak for Scotland.

"Scotland has a trade surplus (with the EU), it supports a lot of jobs in Scotland.

"The EU has over 50 trade agreements with many countries in central and south America. What happens to jobs when that renegotiation takes place?"

Andrew Rosindell, Conservative MP, outlined concerns about the development of the European Union and why, in his view, the ongoing reform negotiations the Prime Minister is engaged in could potentially bring about positive change for Britain and Ireland.

Mr Cameron has called for EU reforms to make the collection of states more competitive and ensure the UK is not discriminated against because it retains the pound.

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