Brexit

'Great fear' amongst Polish community in north over Brexit

Poland's Honorary Consul in Northern Ireland, Jerome Mullen. Picture by Peter Makem

THE Polish consul has said there is "great fear and concern" among the Polish community in Northern Ireland after Theresa May triggered Article 50.

There are more than 30,000 Polish nationals living in the north, making up the largest minority population.

But Honorary Consul Jerome Mullen said there is "real concern" about their future rights to live there.

"I would remind the Prime Minister that Britain invited the Polish community and others to come here in 2004 when it opened its borders. Why? Because it wanted to avail of the skills and the work ethic that such workers could bring to our growing economy," he said.

"We had lost those essential skills that were needed to sustain and grow our expanding industries.

"We still need to access those skills today, but they will not come here if they cannot be assured of their future and that of their families."

Mr Mullen said pledges to protect the common travel area between the UK and Republic of Ireland "would not apply to the thousands of immigrants from countries such as Poland living on both sides of the Irish border, so there is real concern for their future life and that of their families who have settled here".

"I am also very concerned for the thousands of EU citizens living here for many years and working across the border in the south of Ireland every day.

"Such workers after Brexit will lose their treaty rights and will need to apply for permanent residence if they want to remain living in Northern Ireland."

Mr Mullen said Polish people "deserve nothing less than for Theresa May to sort this matter out quickly and assure them that they are welcome to remain here".

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