Naomi long rsz

Parties unites behind single market

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

ROLLINGNEWS .IE

By Anthony Neeson

Four of Northern Ireland’s political parties have called for the north to remain in the European single market and customs union.

In a joint statement, the leaders of Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance Party and the Green Party said there should be no hard border in Ireland.

Michelle O’Neill, Colum Eastwood, Naomi Long and Steven Agnew said staying within the single market and customs union is “critical to protecting investment, jobs, trade and the hard-won peace”.

Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter

Sign up today to get daily, up-to-date news and views from Irish America.

“The Joint Report of the EU and British negotiators published on 8 December last year reiterated its commitment to protecting the Good Friday Agreement, including the effective operation of the institutions and bodies of the Agreement.

“The Joint Report also affirmed that the North South cooperation is a central part of the Good Friday Agreement and Prime Minister Theresa May committed to protecting and supporting continued North South and East West cooperation across the full range of frameworks of cooperation, including the operation of the North South bodies.”

The leaders said “time is of the essence” ahead of next month’s European Council meeting.

“The political parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly wish to reaffirm our common position that we cannot withstand exclusion from the single market or customs union;

“That the protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts, including North/South and East/West co-operation is critical to maintaining relationships within, and between these islands.

“That the backstop agreed by both the British Government and the EU27 is the bottom line in order to safeguard our political and economic stability now and for the future.”

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that that British Prime Minister Theresa May will table a new proposal on Britain’s future customs relations with the EU. He was speaking after a meeting with Theresa May in Sofia in Bulgaria.

“I said to the Prime Minister that any move that helped to align all of the EU and the UK in terms of customs into the future would be beneficial.

“It would help solve some of the problems related to the border but not all of them. It would certainly help us continue to trade between Britain and Ireland much as we do now.”