Northern Ireland’s leading business groups and trade bodies have secured an historic cross-party political commitment to seek amendments to the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill which they say will “guarantee equitable and unfettered access to the Great Britain market” following Brexit.
In an unprecedented gathering, 12 business organisations secured support from a cross-party delegation including representatives from DUP, Sinn Fein, SDLP, UUP and Alliance.
Among the proposed amendments are an aim to ensure parity of access to the Great Britain market for Northern Ireland businesses in relation to other parts of the UK; protection for Northern Ireland companies and consumers from the costs of the consequences of any new trade frictions while they also ask that the Stormont Executive be consulted by the government on regulations which could impact the region’s place within the UK internal market.
In a joint statement following a meeting between the organisations and politicians, Aodhán Connolly who Chaired the meeting said:
“This year is set to be the most important to businesses, consumers, and society in general in Northern Ireland for a generation.
“Along with our colleagues across the political spectrum, we want to see Northern Ireland thrive and our companies and people prosper.
“Businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and they must be allowed to operate without undue hinderance to ensure they can continue to serve the region, create jobs and support our families.
“That is why we have come together to seek changes to the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill that we believe will protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market and provide the guarantee of equitable and unfettered access to the Great Britain market for both exporters and importers. These changes do not seek to undo the will of Parliament in leaving the EU, merely to protect our economy and our households.
“We of course recognise that there are great challenges ahead and lots of work still to be done. A collective effort is now required to inform the crucial political decisions that are yet to be made.
“The commitments that have been made across the political divide to seek amendments to the EU Bill are unprecedented and we now urge politicians and others with influence to do all in their power to help Northern Ireland continue to flourish after Brexit and long into the future. At last, all the parties are in tune with business and are speaking up for the whole of Northern Ireland””