NIC-ICTU welcomes postponement of Hard No-Deal Brexit

11 Apr 2019

Owen Brexit 1

Speaking after the agreement by the Prime Minister and the heads of 27 EU member states, ICTU Assistant General Secretary Owen Reidy said:

“NIC-ICTU, representing over 200,000 workers across Northern Ireland, welcomes the compromise reached at the EU Council summit last night as it avoids the worst of all scenarios, a hard no deal Brexit. We have always been of the view that Brexit is to happen at all, it must be as soft as possible and has to be an agreement which seeks to,

  • protect jobs and employment,
  • maintain existing tariff free trade,
  • avoid 3 borders, (a hard border on the island of Ireland, a border within the UK and any economic border between these island)
  • protect citizens rights and maintain the integrity and spirit of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

“What must be clear to anyone, be they Leavers or Remainers, is that if there is to be any deal on Brexit, the draft Withdrawal Agreement with the Irish/Northern Ireland protocol/ Backstop will be the vehicle for such an agreed EU exit.

“People should remember that this draft Withdrawal Agreement is merely the end of the beginning and not an end in itself. For the ICTU the most logical way to respect the close vote in the referendum and also for the UK to avoid self-harm, a Customs Union and membership of the Single Market for the UK is the way forward.

“It is hoped that this agreed extension to 31st October 2019 provides the space for the British political establishment to get its act together and to seek to build a consensus in the interests of society. It remains to be seen whether this is possible. However, despite the continued long term uncertainly the agreement last night has avoided the worst of all outcomes in the short term.

“Northern Ireland remains without a government and the return to devolution looks unlikely in the short term, and that is not good enough. Workers across Northern Ireland and other representative bodies which represent the interest of business, agriculture and the community and voluntary sector must have their voices not just heard but heeded on this crucial issue. That is why we are calling on both the UK government and the Irish government under Strand 3 to set up a representative Brexit Stakeholders Forum in Northern Ireland in order that we can seek to ensure that interests of the workers we represent in NI are considered and understood and heeded in this Brexit debate.”