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Claims over Brexit are just scaremongering

As someone who has made the case for an independent Northern Ireland within the European Union, I really have to challenge Lord Kilclooney's blinkered view (Write Back, January 13) of independence.

The 2007 Treaty of Lisbon established a constitution for Europe that clarified allocation of powers between the EU and the current 28 states and we are all citizens of the EU and subject to its laws and customs.

During the 2016 referendum on British membership of the EU, the majority in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU.

I suspect the Westminster Government probably already knew this and the consequences pertaining to the 1998 Good Friday/Belfast Agreement in Section 1(i), in which the British and Irish governments agree to accept the choice made by the people of Northern Ireland with regard to their constitutional status.

Moreover, there is probably not one argument ever made by unionists in favour of the Union of the United Kingdom that doesn't apply 10-fold to the EU and chief of which is unfettered access to the single market of 500 million people.

I think Lord Kilclooney is also scaremongering when he argues that an independent Northern Ireland would lose its £10bn block grant from the UK Treasury for we would receive funding from Brussels in much the same way the Republic did until it could grow its economy. And we would likely have many financial firms from the City of London relocating here to retain access to the EU and more US firms joining them.

Should Westminster press ahead and leave the EU, then an independent Northern Ireland would still be a member of the British-Irish Council (BIC), which would become more like the Scandinavian Council that has some states inside the EU and others out of it.

And the BIC may even provide the constitutional mechanism for both Northern Ireland and Scotland to remain within the EU as Westminster leaves because (i) the BIC was established by two EU member states and recognised by Brussels, (ii) both Northern Ireland and Scotland attend the BIC in their own right alongside Westminster and the Republic and (iii) it predates 2007 Treaty of Lisbon and so is already locked in.

I suspect that a bit of constitutional tweaking and leveraging would produce a positive outcome.

Lastly, can I ask whether an independent Northern Ireland would render Lord Kilclooney's title honorary, so he becomes plain John Taylor again?

BERNARD J MULHOLLAND

Belfast

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