Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

SDLP vows to resist return of ‘hard border’

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty MLA says the EU referendum result will see Northern Ireland dragged out of the European Union, in opposition to the will of the people here and are now “shackled to a future they did not vote for”.

“The referendum result presents huge challenges for the North and in particular a border community like ours. This result has the potential to repartition this island, to drive a wedge between our economies and to set progress made over recent years back generations,” Mr McNulty said.

“It is devastating that almost 20 years into the peace process we are in danger of seeing the return of a hard border across Ireland. In real terms it will impact on the way ordinary people go about their daily business, the way people work and the way businesses work.  The consequences are yet to really unfold and the uncertainty is damaging.”

Mr McNulty says the Newry and Armagh constituency has been “like a shining light” in terms of EU benefits: “A vibrant economy embracing cross border trade and movement of goods and people.  In public all-island administration terms, we have the home of the North South Ministerial Council in Armagh city and we have Inter Trade Ireland based in Newry city. These are essential cross border institutions established through the Good Friday Agreement and with the aid and support of the European Union.”

His party will resist any moves to return to “a physical border” in Ireland, he says.

“When we enter discussions with parties in Dublin, London and Brussels, the SDLP will be very clear that there can be no return to a physical border across this island. There must remain freedom of movement for people, goods and services across Ireland.”

SDLP Councillor Pete Byrne says he is shocked and saddened by the outcome of the Referendum.

“There will be a lot of tough decisions ahead, but as public representatives, we all must act in the interests of the people of this island,” he said.  “I am a strong believer in a United Ireland, but we now, more than ever, have an obligation to spell out what a United Ireland would look like. Right across the north of this island, people will pay the biggest price following this outcome, regardless of their political persuasion. The dice has been rolled on the future of our children and we must stand up to those who wish to plunge us into reverse.

“The best way to make your voice heard is to get involved… join our team in the SDLP and fight for the future you believe in.”