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Priority for NI following Brexit is to remain in single market: Eastwood

By Cormac McQuinn

Published 02/11/2016

Protection: SDLP leader Colum Eastwood
Protection: SDLP leader Colum Eastwood

Any post-Brexit border controls should be in Britain, not on the island of Ireland, the leader of the SDLP has said.

Colum Eastwood was speaking ahead of his participation in Taoiseach Enda Kenny's all-island civic dialogue on the UK's vote to leave the European Union.

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster has snubbed the event in Dublin which will be attended by politicians, business groups, unions, and others.

Mr Eastwood said that his priority is that the province remain in the single market. He said "the freedom of movement of goods and services across this island must be protected and any new border controls must be at Stanstead, Liverpool or Stranraer, not in Ireland".

Mr Eastwood said that an "Irish solution to a European problem" is needed and urged the Irish Government to "defend the interests of all the people of Ireland".

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald will be attending along with Gerry Adams, and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

She appealed to Mrs Foster, the DUP leader, to change her mind and engage with the forum in future. "Maybe the DUP will reconsider and will participate in this," she said. Ms McDonald said the people of Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU and pointed out that the DUP campaigned for a Leave vote.

"We profoundly disagree with that - but if they have a point of view they should be in Dublin articulating it," she said.

Irish employers' group IBEC said its key issues are the preservation of the common labour market and the need for a shared ambition for infrastructure on an all-island basis. It also wants a targeted strategy to react to the difficulties for business in the border areas.

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