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No-deal Brexit 'is biggest threat since Troubles'



NIRC director Aodhan Connolly

NIRC director Aodhan Connolly

NIRC director Aodhan Connolly

A no-deal Brexit is the single biggest threat to the Northern Ireland economy since the Troubles, a retail body has claimed.

Responding to a consultation launched by the Alternative Arrangements Commission (AAC), director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, Aodhan Connolly claimed the UK's withdrawal from the EU without a deal at the end of October "will mean the systematic disintegration of supply chains" built up over 40 years.

"It will be a disaster for Northern Ireland businesses and households," he said.

The comments were directed at the AAC, the body led by Conservative MPs Greg Hands and Nicky Morgan, which is seeking to come up with alternative proposals to facilitate post-Brexit trade on the Irish border in order to avoid the backstop provision in any withdrawal deal.

Backstop opponents argue that a combination of technology and administrative solutions negate the need for the arrangement. However, critics say such proposals will not work under EU law.

Mr Connolly said existing technology cannot solve the problems posed by border trade: "Our economy cannot be anyone's experiment," he said.

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"The proposed mobile checks not only put unbearable costs into the supply chain but do not fulfil the United Kingdom Government's commitment to the avoidance of a hard border," Mr Connolly added.

"So much of this is predicated on the EU agreeing to fundamental changes.

"The solutions proffered add complexity and costs that will make business in Northern Ireland less competitive and in some cases unviable."

Mr Connolly added that any alternative arrangements "must add to the backstop,not take away from it".

"In short, small or medium enterprises, who make up the majority of our supply chain, should be able to trade the same as they do today.

"Currently these proposals do not come close to meeting these tests," he said.