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Restoration of Executive essential for addressing Brexit fallout

12 February 2018

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Labour Party Leader and spokesperson on Northern Ireland, Brendan Howlin TD has welcomed the progress made towards restoring a power sharing Executive in Northern Ireland, and has said it is essential for ensuring the people of Northern Ireland are heard over the coming weeks in this critical phase of Brexit talks.

Deputy Howlin said:

"On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the reported progress today towards restoring a power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland is enormously welcome.

"For too long the people of Northern Ireland have been left without a say in the critical Brexit talks that have been underway over the last year, since the failure to restore devolved Government after Assembly elections. The lack of devolution has also meant many domestic problems have festered rather than be solved, from health and housing, to the Irish language and marriage equality.

"Unfortunately, the two main parties have diametrically opposed positions on Brexit, but a functioning Executive and devolution would at least provide the political structures needed to address the fallout.

"If the differences to restore the Executive between Sinn Féin and the DUP are not now insurmountable, then the people of Northern Ireland can breathe a sigh of relief for the moment.

"The coming weeks will define the type of transition agreement, and the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU. The fallout from a hard Brexit has the potential to be devastating for the Northern economy.

"I have consistently called for the UK to remain in the customs union and the single market to ensure a hard border is not imposed on our island. The restoration of the Executive will add another further voice to the debate in the UK, where both Scotland and Wales now wish to remain as close as possible to the EU."