The IIEA co-hosted an important event with the Irish Association and Queen’s University on What Brexit means for Northern Ireland, on Thursday 26 November 2015 in the Great Hall of Queen’s University, Belfast. Keynote speakers at the event were the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Charles Flanagan, T.D., and Northern Irish Minister for Finance and Personnel, Ms Arlene Foster MLA. The event was featured in the Irish media, including in The Irish Times and The Irish News.
This was the first public North-South ministerial dialogue on the subject of a possible British withdrawal from the European Union, and was intended to start the debate on the implications of Brexit for the island of Ireland, and in particular, for Northern Ireland.
In his speech, Minister Flanagan emphasised the uncertainty surrounding the issue of Brexit, saying: “No matter what way you look at it, a Brexit would be a leap into the unknown. No matter how much planning and mitigating and negotiating … we simply don’t yet know just how much it might mean for the border, for north-south cooperation, and for the all-island economy.”
Minister Flanagan presented the Irish position on Brexit and indicated the commitment of the Government “to supporting sensible British EU reform proposals”. The Irish News reported that Minister Flanagan also “raised concerns about the potential re-instatement of border controls” on the Northern Irish border.
In her address, Minister Arlene Foster welcomed both the discussion on Brexit in Northern Ireland, and the broader debate on British EU membership. She stated that “the British public haven’t been consulted for forty years” on the terms of their European Union membership and it is for this reason that she believes it is “good to have debate”. In Northern Ireland, she stressed the need for the “broadest possible participation” in the debate and praised the initiative of Queens University, the IIEA and Irish Association for starting the public discussion of this issue in Northern Ireland. The Irish Times reported that Minister Foster called for “meaningful change” at EU level, in order to to keep Britain in Europe.”
John Manley’s article in the Irish News may be read in full here.
Gerry Moriarty’s article in the Irish Times may be accessed here
About The Event
At an IIEA symposium at Queen’s University Belfast, in association with the Irish Association and QUB, the keynote speakers, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Ireland, Charles Flanagan, T.D., and Minister for Finance and Personnel of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, MLA, presented their unique perspectives on the implications of Brexit for Northern Ireland and for British-Irish relations. The symposium was the first public North-South ministerial dialogue on the subject of Brexit.
It was co-organised by the IIEA, the Irish Association for Cultural, Economic and Social Relations, and Queen’s University Belfast with the kind support of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Northern Irish Ministry for Finance and Personnel for their support.