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Brexit referendum sees Northern Ireland political parties split over pros and cons of staying with family of nations

By Nevin Farrell

Published 22/02/2016

Alliance: Party is "unashamedly a pro-European party", and while it will campaign to remain in, says it is not blind to the reforms needed. A vote to exit Europe would leave the UK weak and divided, it claims.

MLA Stewart Dickson said: "What is clear is that Northern Ireland benefits and continues to reap great rewards through membership of the European Union. Not only have we received structural and cohesion funds in excess of what we put in, but businesses benefit from trade barriers being brought down across Europe."

DUP: The DUP is eurosceptic and, on balance, recommend a vote to leave the EU but says it is up to individual party supporters to vote whichever way they want to. The party fully expects a range of differing personal views as to what is in the best interests of the United Kingdom.

Party leader Arlene Foster said: "At every stage in this European negotiation process we had hoped to see a fundamental change to our relationship with Europe.

"In our view, we see nothing in this deal that changes our outlook. Therefore we will on balance recommend a vote to leave the EU."

SDLP: The SDLP wants to stay in Europe. Party leader Colum Eastwood described the prospect of the UK's withdrawal from Europe as "the biggest immediate threat to the economy of Northern Ireland and to the island as a whole". Mr Eastwood said the referendum will be one of the most important votes faced by people in Northern Ireland in decades and added: "It is therefore vital that a strong and positive campaign is conducted to remain in Europe."

Sinn Fein: The party says Ireland has benefited hugely from European Union membership and should remain within the EU. In particular, the agriculture and agri-food industry have gone from strength to strength.

The party's Martin McGuinness said the benefits of EU membership could "be felt daily across all sections of our society".

TUV: Party wants out of Europe and will campaign vigorously for an exit. Party leader Jim Allister proclaimed: "We have nothing to lose but our chains."

Ulster Unionist Party: The party executive discussed the question of the UK's continued membership of the EU and agreed to return to the matter once the details of any deal are known and at that stage it will make a decision.

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