Business leaders still cautious as talks reach critical stage
Northern Ireland business representatives remained cautious last night as the pace hotted up in the Brexit negotiations.
Aodhan Connolly of the NI Retail Consortium said last night that the negotiations were reaching a critical stage.
"There's a bit more hope - and I have to say a bit more of a positive vibe in the business community tonight than there has been in this past few weeks," he said.
"However, we don't want to be premature.
"What we're going to do is sit tight and wait for some detail.
"But I think it's obvious to everyone who is in business in Northern Ireland how important the next eight days are going to be."
Retail NI's Glyn Roberts welcomed the intensified engagement between the UK, EU and Irish leaders, seeing it as a positive step to a workable outcome for local businesses.
"Things certainly seem to be moving in a positive way, though it remains to be seen whether we can get a final deal over the line. But it's good to see increased engagement between the Irish, British and European Commission," he told the Belfast Telegraph last night.
"The one thing that needs to happen as well is that the business community needs to be part of the loop, because I think our input into the process is crucially important.
"Obviously the clock is ticking, so to speak, so we probably need to see things come to a head early next week. But I think certainly it is encouraging, and we hope that it leads to a successful conclusion.
"All business has wanted all along was a deal - a deal which is good for business, ensures that we don't have any borders, ensures that we can trade, that we don't have tariffs, that we don't have any sort of checks along the border and we have unrestricted access to both the British market and the EU single market.
"I think that would be a deal that we'd be very much up for," Mr Roberts added.