Province 'better off outside EU'
Published 25/10/2011 | 17:22
Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has said he believes Northern Ireland could be better-off if the UK was not a member of the European Union.
His comments in the Assembly came in response to a question on EU funding, and follow a Commons vote on a referendum on membership of the Union.
The Democratic Unionists voted in favour of a referendum and at Stormont Mr Wilson responded to a question in which the SDLP's Alban Maginness referred to the minister as having eurosceptic views.
But Mr Wilson said: "I am very proud of my party's record, in fact we were the only party who attended and had 100% vote in favour of a referendum in the House of Commons last night and indeed we didn't even have to be whipped in order to get there.
"I hope that we have proved that when it comes to the issue of Europe - and members might laugh about it - the impact of Europe and European regulation on businesses in Northern Ireland, and right across the United Kingdom, the amount of red tape, the loss of sovereignty, the fact that nearly 60% of the regulations which apply in Northern Ireland don't even get debated in this chamber, because they are imposed by some bureaucrats in Brussels.
"So there are some very good reasons why people who have not had a say in our place in Europe in 52 years should have say."
His comments came after the DUP's eight MPs, plus independent North Down MP Lady Sylvia Hermon, joined rebel Tories in the House of Commons to vote in favour of a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union.
The motion was beaten with the support of the Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems. But the rebellion by 81 Tory MPs represented a major embarrassment for Prime Minister David Cameron.
The three SDLP representatives in the Commons, plus the Alliance Party's Naomi Long, also voted against the measure.