Press Release

SIPTU repeats its demand for open border and worker’s rights in any Brexit deal

Date Released: 18 October 2019

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, Gerry McCormack, has said that the latest agreement between the UK and the European Union has offered a solution that avoids the imposition of a hard border in Ireland. He noted that it proposes that Northern Ireland should remain in the UK customs union but that it can also avail of EU customs arrangements and the single market.

“In this way”, he said, “it will avoid the introduction of a hard border and customs posts between the North and the Republic of Ireland. It also gives members of the Stormont Assembly the right to opt out of these arrangements in the future if a democratic majority so decides.

“It removes the immediate threat of disruption to the movement of people and goods across the border and to the peace process. It remains unclear as to the protections it provides for workers in the North and whether existing environmental and other standards will be maintained in the UK following Brexit. 

“SIPTU representatives, along with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, have argued against any form of Brexit. Over the past three years, we have also warned against the huge dangers posed by a hard or ‘no deal’ Brexit to workers in Ireland. 

“A no-deal Brexit would cause untold damage to the agri-food industry, in particular, in Ireland, north and south, could cost up to 100,000 jobs across the island and would disrupt trade and business with UK and EU markets. 

“It would also undermine the Good Friday Agreement, its commitment to all island co-operation and threaten the peace process.

“What is critical, if Brexit is to occur, is that we have an agreement that protects workers and their families as well as the peace agreements,” Gerry McCormack said

It is uncertain as to whether this agreement will win the support of the British House of Commons at a vote due to be held tomorrow (Saturday, 19th October).


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