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Brexit: All-island Implications

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 17th October 2016.

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Photo of Martin McGuinness Martin McGuinness Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 17th October 2016

It is quite obvious that, in the upcoming discussions, we will make the case that, effectively, we are a special case. That is identified by the fact that the First Minister and I have written jointly to the British Prime Minister outlining quite a number of areas of concern, including our concern at the prospect that there might be a border of any description. It is also worth noting that, last week on RTÉ, Jeffrey Donaldson on two occasions made it clear that he thinks that the island of Ireland needs to be treated as a special case. He repeated that in Brussels 24 hours later.

We are a special case. The prospect of the Brexit negotiations impacting on the political, social and economic life of the people of the North is so profound that we have a duty to work together to ensure that the interests of the people we represent are protected. The best way forward in this — I do not know whether it is possible to do it — and the strongest hand that we can play in any negotiation will be if we can come to an agreement between ourselves and with the Irish Government on what the ask is from our perspective. We will get the first indication of where all this is going when the First Minister and I attend the meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee, which will be chaired by the Prime Minister on Monday next week.