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Irish businesses “need assurance” on Northern Ireland Brexit backstop, says business group

Irish businesses “need assurance” on trading issues if the Northern Ireland backstop is to go ahead, a business group has said.

Speaking to Scram News, Seamus Leheny, Policy Manager for the group, Freight Transport Association (FTA) said that Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are “dependent” on each other and maintaining a seamless border between the two is important to protect supply chains.

He said:

“There’s a few things we need assurance on.”

It comes after Johnson visited Ireland this morning to talk to the Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar about Brexit negotiations. A point of contention between the two parties has always been the backstop, with Varadkar maintaining it’s essential, while Boris Johnson repeatedly trying to scrap it.

Now rumours have circulated suggesting only applying a backstop to Northern Ireland, an idea originally proposed during Theresa May’s premiership, but scrapped due to opposition from the DUP who at the time propped up the Conservative Party’s majority.

As it stands, with Boris Johnson purging MPs and losing his majority, the DUP are not as integral to parliamentary proceedings. Nevertheless, the DUP chief whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the DUP would vote against a Northern Ireland backstop.

Leheny said that having a Northern Ireland backstop would be better for Ireland’s businesses and economy than no backstop at all, but that the British government needed to assure Ireland that certain standards are protected.

He said the government needed to ensure that Northern Ireland products “have unfettered access to the GB market”, stating that Great Britain is Ireland’s biggest market and said that trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland must be maintained.

He said:

“Regulatory divergence and tariffs jeopardise the economy.”

He added that it is important that Northern Ireland can keep the Red Tractor symbol on food, a quality assurance symbol from Assured Food Standards.

He said: “We need assurances that business can continue to trade with GB and move Irish goods around”. 

Previously, the FTA has warned of the perils of a no-deal Brexit. Now, they have shown why a clear border policy is needed as well.

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