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Northern Ireland must make its voice heard in UK-EU debate - Donohoe

Speaking at the launch of ‘Northern Ireland and the European Union; The dynamics of a changing relationship’ by Mary C. Murphy last night (Tuesday) in Belfast, Minister for European Affairs, Paschal Donohoe TD called on the people of Northern Ireland to make their voice heard in the ongoing debate in Britain about that country’s future relationship with the EU (see speech below).

“This book offers a valuable and definitive evaluation of the relationship between Northern Ireland and the European Union, and provides a framework for understanding this important relationship now and during the recent past. It is also very timely given the institutional turnover in Brussels and Strasbourg at the moment and the important debate that is developing in Britain regarding their future relationship with the EU.

“It is essential that the voice of Northern Ireland is heard in this debate. Common membership of the EU has been a force for reconciliation and a framework for cooperation on this island. Even in the context of the positive state of North-South and East-West relations, a British exit from the EU would have extremely serious consequences, irrespective of mitigation strategies.

“Clearly the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement has been instrumental in fostering the cross border economic relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland. But it has also been facilitated by the parallel development of the EU Single Market. Removing or even shaking this foundation could be very damaging.

“For our part, we fully respect the need for debate and reflection, but Ireland is concerned by the potential for British disengagement from Europe. Our unequivocal view in Dublin is that we are a committed and integrated member of the EU - and will remain so. We also firmly believe that the European Union is stronger with the UK in it and that the UK is stronger in the EU. This is particularly true in today's globalised and multi-polar world.

“For all of these reasons, I hope that this publication deepens the debate on the relationship between Northern Ireland and the EU. And by deepening that debate, your voice becomes louder and is heard.”