The leadership of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association - the body which represents councils here - have pressed the case for the prioritisation of local communities & councils in Northern Ireland in the Brexit process, after securing a series of key meetings in London.
The meeting with Steve Baker MP and Robin Walker MP, both Parliamentary Under Secretaries of State for the Department for Exiting the European Union (DEXEU), is part of a wider four country delegation set up amid growing concerns presented by councils, trade and enterprise bodies together with council led cross border groups, regarding NI’s position within the EU withdrawal negotiations.
NILGA President Ald Arnold Hatch, past President Cllr Seán McPeake and Chief Executive Derek McCallan also invited the Brexit Ministers to meet in Northern Ireland as part of a clear campaign to move the Brexit piece from statistics to local people and places across NI.
Alderman Arnold Hatch, NILGA President
“Local government in Northern Ireland simply can’t be an afterthought, reacting to what others do or don’t do in terms of the EU referendum next steps.”
“We as councils will need to anticipate legislative and regulatory change, as well as community impact, in terms of finance and peace building. So, we are going directly to the people who are responsible for negotiating the Brexit deal.”
“We need stronger assurances from government about what this is all leading to. Our engagement with member councils and wider stakeholders shows that the impacts of Brexit are starting to bite, specifically in the manufacturing, food & drink, transport, agriculture, fisheries and construction sectors. We need to be opportunistic also, which is why NILGA has already secured Northern Ireland as one of just two shortlisted regions for the 52 nation Commonwealth Investment Conference, which will bring major nation export opportunities in 2019 from the likes of Canada, Australia and India.”
“NILGA has developed an Economy, Investment and Rural Development Working Group, engaging with every aspect of civic and commercial society, to identify issues from councils’ perspectives early to ensure that elected representatives in charge of the negotiations hear our key requirements clearly.”
“We have been able to secure meetings with the ‘go to’ Ministers within the department responsible for Brexit and will be going in force alongside our local government partners in England, Scotland and Wales to outline the reality that we face and the importance of prioritising our needs.”
“Without the Assembly or Executive, we are the only politically representative voice from Northern Ireland putting these issues to the government on a collective basis.”