Brexit - Chief Negotiator Visits Derry
Today (Tuesday 1st May) I was privileged to represent Letterkenny Chamber at a meeting with Michel Barnier EU Chief Negotiator for the UK exit from the EU hosted in Derry’s Gulidhall. Mr. Barnier and his team listened intently to the concerns of the invited audience and clearly understood the specific difficulties of this region.
After an introduction about the North West City Region from John Kelpie, Chief Executive Derry City and Strabane District Council and Seamus Neely, Chief Executive, Donegal County Council we were all given the time and space to voice our concerns and those who we represent. We clustered these questions and points around business, education and skills and importantly the very practical issues that we may have to face post Brexit.
What struck me was, despite the prospect of the UK leaving the EU, we as a group of stakeholders in the region, still hold on to our ambition and vision for the North West and our belief that the businesses we represent are resilient and will adapt to changing circumstances.
I felt encouraged by Mr.Barnier’s fervent belief that the principles of the Good Friday Agreement must be upheld and that he was, in all his endeavours, trying to protect the all island economy by keeping Northern Ireland in a Customs Union.
I sensed an optimism that the team can get a ratified agreement by October based on their backstop proposals and that this will bring much more certainty for our members and the whole business community.
The issue then is how to get the UK government to recognise our particular circumstances as a border region, to acknowledge the impact that Brexit is likely to have on the region.
From the day after the referendum we saw nothing to be gained from Brexit but we cannot change the democratic vote so we will continue to work with our colleagues in this ambitious city region to achieve the best result we can for our business community and civic society.