Remain campaign leader Tom Kelly was not asked to sign open letter

Tom Kelly, who fronted up the Stronger Together remain campaign, was not asked to sign the letter.

The public face of the Northern Ireland remain campaign has said he was not approached to add his signature to an open letter by 200 influential members of civic society, calling on the taoiseach Leo Varadkar to support to northern nationalists.

Carried in Monday's Irish News, the unprecedented letter to Mr Varadkar said: "The impending reality of Brexit now threatens to reinforce partition on this island and revisit a sense of abandonment as experienced by our parents and grandparents. The fact that a majority of voters in the north of Ireland voted to remain within the EU must not be ignored.

"We, our children and grandchildren should not be forced out of the EU against our democratic will".

Businessman Tom Kelly, who fronted the Stronger In campaign in Northern Ireland during last year's referendum, said he was "surprised" that he had not been approached to sign the open letter

Organisers have said the letter came about after a conversations took place among members of civic society about the fears of Brexit, the collapse of power sharing, and the failure to implement all remaining strands of the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Kelly said; "To be honest I was rather surprised when I saw the letter, but I also felt as someone who fronted a cross community and multi party approach to the actual remain campaign, on which so much political argument for special status for Northern Ireland is built - that a more inclusive call on all the parties and the two governments would have been more appropriate.

"The organisers missed a trick by not reaching out to unionists who want to remain, they are currently without representation, as we've seen in the last few weeks with the attacks on Sylvia Hermon, anyone who does try to speak for them in labelled a Lundy.

"The problem with the remain campaign is that it lost momentum after the referendum.

"While there was merit to the letter I think they really missed an opportunity, both in terms of who they reached out to and the timing, to create an inclusive united front.

"It was a bit of a waste, among that group of people there are some who could have really persuaded unionists who want to remain and are currently isolated, to join with them in lobbying both governments", he added.

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