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We will protect Northern Ireland's interests during Brexit, minister pledges

Published 04/10/2016

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire promised to protect the province's interests
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire promised to protect the province's interests

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has vowed that the province's interests will be protected when the UK leaves the European Union as he also committed the Government to ridding the country of paramilitary groups.

Mr Brokenshire said he had no doubt that Northern Ireland "can and will" make a success of Brexit.

He also insisted the Government remains determined to protect the Union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in the wake of EU withdrawal which is expected to take place in early 2019.

Addressing the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, Mr Brokenshire said: "Building a Northern Ireland that works for everyone also means making a success of the UK's democratic decision to leave the European Union. And I am in no doubt that we can and will.

"Northern Ireland has some world-beating businesses, a hugely talented workforce and a great, entrepreneurial spirit."

On the border with the Republic of Ireland, he said: "We will work to ensure that Northern Ireland's unique interests are protected and advanced.

"That's particularly the case when it comes to the land border with the Republic of Ireland and the Common Travel Area which has served the UK and Ireland well for many decades."

Mr Brokenshire reiterated the Government's and Theresa May's commitment to preserving the Union.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said: "As she made clear on entering Downing Street we must preserve the special bonds that unite England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

"So we should approach this with optimism and a positive view of what we can achieve for Northern Ireland inside the UK but outside the EU.

"That's what we will continue to do as we seek to build a peaceful, stable and prosperous Northern Ireland."

Addressing the issue of paramilitary groups, Mr Brokenshire said: "Northern Ireland's future will only ever be determined by democracy and consent, never by violence.

"Tackling paramilitary groups remains a key part of this agenda.

"I realise that this is easier said than done and these groups use intimidation, control and paramilitary labels to instil fear and line their own pockets.

"But let's be clear about our objective.

"There was never any justification for these groups in the past.

"There is none today and we need a concerted effort across society to put them out of business for good."

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