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Businessman calls for Northern Ireland to make voice heard amid Brexit 'chest-bashing'

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Concerns: Connaire McGreevy

Concerns: Connaire McGreevy

Concerns: Connaire McGreevy

A Co Down businessman has said Northern Ireland needs to make its voice heard amid early-stage "chest-bashing" before talks on a trade agreement between the UK and EU.

Connaire McGreevy, managing director of contractor CTS Projects in Warrenpoint, said the voice of business here needed to be heard "loud and clear" as trade talks loom between the UK and EU to discuss their future relationship.

The UK left the EU on Friday, with a transition period beginning which maintains the status quo until the end of December.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier were yesterday setting out their positions on talks and what a future agreement should entail. Areas of friction include environmental standards and workers' rights.

Following speeches by the pair, the pound fell more than 1% against the dollar, with traders spooked by the prospect of a no-deal Brexit as both sides stuck to their respective positions.

The Prime Minister said he wanted a Canada-style free trade agreement, with the UK not having to follow rules made in Brussels. But Michel Barnier has called on the UK to observe a "level playing field" in future trade.

We in Northern Ireland need to be heard loud and clear Connaire McGreevy

Mr McGreevy said the picture for Northern Ireland remained "very much up in the air".

"We've obviously got some chest-bashing comments from the Prime Minister, which are a bit concerning.

"But we in Northern Ireland need to be heard loud and clear. We need unfettered access to the Republic and Great Britain."

Mr McGreevy last year described how he had retreated from renewing long-term contracts for his facilities management and heating installation company, as costs had increased following the referendum.

Yesterday he stated there would be a cost for NI businesses from the Brexit withdrawal agreement. "The British Government needs to come up with a Brexit mitigation fund for Northern Ireland business," he said.

"Business here has always been very flexible and we will have to adapt again, but we'll need help."

He told Business Telegraph a contract held by his company with the Housing Executive was now likely to go back on the market. And he said he would re-tender for the work but at a higher cost after his own costs had increased, due to Brexit's impact on currency.

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