Belfast Telegraph

Civic society groups unite to oppose no-deal Brexit

The organisations claim a disorderly exit from the EU would have a devastating impact on Northern Ireland.

No to No Deal campaigners (PA)
No to No Deal campaigners (PA)

By David Young, PA

Civic society groups across Northern Ireland have joined forces to voice opposition to a no-deal Brexit.

Trade unions, NGOs and charities are among those signing up to the No to No Deal campaign.

Launching the initiative on Monday, the participants are urging other civic society bodies to sign up to a common statement opposing a disorderly exit from the EU.

It is well evidenced that crashing out of the European Union without a deal is the worst possible option Seamus McAleavey, NICVA

They have also encouraged them to collate and highlight evidence on the potential impact of a no-deal on their sectors.

Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA), the umbrella group for the community and voluntary sector, is one of those organisations supporting the campaign.

Chief executive Seamus McAleavey said: “NICVA, along with civic organisations, have consistently called for a no-deal Brexit to be taken off the table.

“It is well evidenced that crashing out of the European Union without a deal is the worst possible option, the implications of which will be felt heaviest by people here in Northern Ireland. It can and must be avoided.”

Kevin Hanratty, director of the Human Rights Consortium, another signatory, said: “This campaign is about bringing together the many voices of civic society and the public, who have clearly and consistently articulated the many reasons why a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for Northern Ireland.

“For us, there is a clear risk to hard-won rights protections but for others it may be something different.

“The unifying element is that all of those voices are saying No To No Deal.”

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The groups are concerned about the impact a no-deal Brexit would have on cross-border relations (Liam McBurney/PA)

Patricia McKeown, regional secretary of the trade union Unison, said: “A no-deal UK exit from the EU would be disastrous for workers, their families and communities across Northern Ireland.

“The risk of a no-deal exit is only increasing after Boris Johnson’s outrageous move to close Parliament.

“Regardless of the political chaos unfolding at Westminster, the trade union movement and our allies across civic society will remain steadfast in demanding the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and our members’ rights and livelihoods.

“We will not accept a no-deal crash out, with no protections for our peace agreement and which will lead to a return of a border across the island of Ireland.”

Robert Murtagh, president of students union body NUS-USI, said a no-deal would have a “devastating” impact on Northern Ireland.

“A no-deal outcome must be stopped so that NI doesn’t lose cross-border student mobility, EU-funded apprenticeship places, Erasmus+ student opportunities, access to EU research funding and recognition of qualifications,” he said.

“Students and young people, many of whom were born after the Good Friday Agreement, deserve hope not a future of lost opportunities as a result of a no-deal Brexit.”

PA

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