Steps must be taken to enhance relations with EU - Ó Muilleoir
Speaking after meeting Mayor Juan Mari Aburto of Bilbao to discuss co-operation between Belfast and the Basque city, Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir called for steps to be taken to enhance relations with the continent post-Brexit.
Máirtín Ó Muilleoir said:
“Sinn Féin is fighting for Special Designated Status within the EU for the North to offset the damaging effect of Brexit. The EU 27 has proposed the backstop to protect the North.
“However, no matter the outcome, steps will need to be taken post-Brexit to compensate for the fact that Ireland’s nearest neighbour is no longer in the EU.
“Those steps must include a solidarity fund to cover infrastructure, innovation & business development.
“The challenges are manifold:
“INTERREG projects which linked the North to Wales & Scotland are certain to fall under Brexit. Similarly, research projects linking local universities with European colleges are likely to be imperiled.
“And as the British economy contracts and becomes more isolated post-Brexit, our businesses will have to rise to the challenge of increasing trade with Europe.
“Tourism will also need additional help due to a fall-off in EU labour and potential additional barriers to visitors to the North.
“Special Status or The Backstop will go a long way to ensuring the population of the North can still enjoy the rights, benefits and opportunities of the EU but a solidarity fund and new schemes to deepen links to the Continent will be essential.
“Today I discussed with Mayor Aburto increased collaboration between Belfast and Bilbao especially in the field of university research and exchanges, urban development and sport.”