Civic society groups from across a range of sectors in Northern Ireland have launched a campaign opposing a No Deal Brexit outcome. The No To No Deal campaign, which already has the support of several trade unions, NGO’s, charities and umbrella bodies, is calling on the UK Government to avoid a No Deal given what they see as the dire consequences of such an outcome for Northern Ireland.
The campaign, which launched on Monday 2nd September, is asking civic society groups to sign up to a common statement opposed to No Deal but also encourages members of the public to show their support and contribute evidence about No Deal impacts through the campaign’s social media channels.
The campaign comes at a key time in the Brexit process as the UK approaches the 31st October deadline for leaving the EU and comes on the back of last week’s highly contentious move by the Prime Minister to prorogue Parliament. Northern Ireland has been at the heart of Brexit negotiations and key protections such as the Northern Ireland protocol, a part of the draft Withdrawal Agreement negotiated between the UK & EU, which was designed to help insulate Northern Ireland from the worst impacts of Brexit will be lost in a No Deal outcome.
NICVA Director Seamus McAleavey one of the groups supporting the campaign said, “NICVA, along with civic organisations, have consistently called for a no deal Brexit to be taken off the table. It is well evidenced that crashing out of the European Union without a deal is the worst possible option, the implications of which will be felt heaviest by people here in Northern Ireland. It can and must be avoided.”
Kevin Hanratty, Director of the Human Rights Consortium outlined that, “This campaign is about bringing together the many voices of civic society and the public who have clearly and consistently articulated the many reasons why a No Deal Brexit would be a disaster for Northern Ireland. For us, there is a clear risk to hard won rights protections, but for others it may be something different. The unifying element is that all of those voices are saying No To No Deal.”
Patricia McKeown, Regional Secretary of UNISON said, “A No Deal UK exit from the EU would be disastrous for workers, their families and communities across Northern Ireland. The risk of a no deal exit is only increasing after Boris Johnson’s outrageous move to close Parliament. Regardless of the political chaos unfolding at Westminster, the trade union movement and our allies across civic society will remain steadfast in demanding the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and our member’s rights and livelihoods. We will not accept a No Deal crash out, with no protections for our peace agreement and which will lead to a return of a border across the island of Ireland.”
Robert Murtagh, President of NUS-USI added that, “It is crucial that we prevent a no-deal and all the devastating impacts it would have on Northern Ireland. A no-deal outcome must be stopped so that NI doesn’t lose cross-border student mobility, EU-funded apprenticeship places, Erasmus+ student opportunities, access to EU research funding and recognition of qualifications. Students and young people, many of whom were born after the Good Friday Agreement deserve hope, not a future of lost opportunities as a result of a no-deal Brexit.”