CIVIC AND BUSINESS LEADERS CALL FOR POLITICIANS TO RESOLVE NI PROTOCOL ISSUES
Leading civic and business figures are calling on EU and UK politicians to resolve the NI Protocol in ways that promote opportunities for Northern Ireland and upholds the Good Friday/Belfast Agreement.
In an open letter, drafted by peace building charity Co-operation Ireland and The Institute of Irish Studies at The University of Liverpool, over 50 leaders and organisations are urging the EU and UK to continue seeking solutions through ongoing discussions ahead of the transition period ending in October.
The letter calls for ‘proportionate, bespoke and reasonable solutions’ that will deliver stability, prosperity and opportunity for Northern Ireland, and urges the need for ‘structured engagement’ with civic society in the time ahead.
Co-operation Ireland CEO Peter Sheridan said: “The peace process represents one of the brightest chapters in our history. It was achieved through common purpose for the common good, with positive negotiations dedicated to resolving the deepest divisions. The UK and EU were key parties to that constructive agenda.
“Those involved in ongoing discussions should recognise that peace and stability must remain the first priority. This focus will lead to better outcomes and opportunities, help to ensure political stability, and foster more consensus around our shared future as we navigate change.”
Director of the Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool Professor Pete Shirlow said: “Civic society and the business community has many views. But we are speaking with one voice in this appeal.
“The people of Northern Ireland do not want barriers in any direction. Stability is now needed to build upon opportunities. That should be the focus of on-going discussions between the EU and UK to implement the Protocol.
“Maintaining and delivering the Good Friday Agreement can never be rhetorical. Ongoing discussions between the UK and EU have to achieve a balance similar to that within the Good Friday Agreement that upholds parity of esteem and mutual respect, and the totality of relationships.
“Solutions should ensure minimal disruption to trade between these islands. Northern Ireland’s peace and prosperity should be primary incentives in EU and UK discussions. The engagement of civic voices is now critical to achieving objectivity and the removal of economic and political instability.”
Following the publication of the letter, a series of events will now be organised to gather insights, ideas and reaction to upcoming discussions.
Co-operation Ireland and The Institute of Irish Studies at The University of Liverpool will continue to work to make space where solutions can be found that encourage the UK and EU to deliver balanced responses.