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First Ministers show complete lack of leadership at time of worrying upheaval after the UK's Brexit vote

letter of the day: EU concerns

Published 25/07/2016

On Wednesday, July 5, Nicola Sturgeon published a letter in her capacity as First Minister of Scotland, addressed to European Union citizens living in Scotland. Acknowledging the "considerable uncertainty" that Brexit has brought about for EU citizens living in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon then went on to highlight Scotland's overwhelming Remain vote and emphasised that they (the Scottish people) voted for an "open and inclusive society with free movement and free trade".

One of the most crucial aspects of the letter was that Scotland's First Minister unequivocally and robustly affirmed to EU citizens that "Scotland is your home, you are welcome here and the contribution that you make to our economy, our society and our culture is valued".

In stark contrast I have seen no such gesture, nor any robust statements, from Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Ministers.

This total lack of leadership is completely unacceptable. It is evident that neither Arlene Foster nor the DUP have a plan on how to respond to the reality of England and Wales dragging Northern Ireland out of the European Union against the will of those who voted Remain.

There have been no genuine or heartfelt efforts on their part to address the uncertainty felt by people in Northern Ireland, or to prevent further instability and the spreading of fear and anxiety at this extremely difficult time. We have seen very little effort put into statements - when they have been made - to condemn those perpetrating racist hate crimes post-Brexit.

Why are Northern Ireland's First and Deputy First Minister seemingly incapable of replicating the leadership shown by Scotland's First Minister at this time of immense upheaval and turmoil? What excuse is given for the lack of effort being made to reassure EU citizens living in Northern Ireland that their rights and status are a top priority for the Northern Ireland Executive?

In the absence of any true leadership from the Executive Office I wish to say directly to EU citizens in Northern Ireland that you continue to be extremely welcome here. The people of Northern Ireland will not stand idly by and allow your rights to be violated.

This is your home and we do not want you to feel unsafe or unable to participate in society. We value your input in continuing to enrich our society, culture and economy. We see you as equal human beings deserving of the exact same rights as the rest of us.

Please don't be afraid to reach out - the vast majority of people here will stand by you.


Alliance Party

Belfast Telegraph

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