MPs' rejection of Brexit deal heightens nationalist concern say conference organisers

Irish News columnist Brian Feeney (left) and solicitor Niall Murphy launch the Beyond Brexit event. Picture by David Young/PA Wire

MPS' rejection of the proposed Brexit deal has heightened concern among northern nationalists that their rights will be jeopardised by the absence of a formal agreement, the organisers of a major new conference have said.

At the official launch of the Beyond Brexit conference, organised by the Ireland's Future group, at Belfast's Waterfront Hall yesterday, it was stressed that Northern Ireland had voted to remain but was "not being appropriately represented".

Ireland's Future is the group behind December's open letter to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, which was signed by more than 1,000 figures from civic nationalism.

Belfast solicitor and event co-organiser Niall Murphy said despite almost 56 per cent of people in the north advocating continued membership of the EU "political unionism has given a definitive expression to promote Brexit".

"We think that that is inconsistent with the majority view and we consider that the convention of this conference provides an opportunity to rebalance that inequity," he said.

Among those confirmed to appear at the January 26 event are the Republic's education minister Joe McHugh, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, Fianna Fáil's deputy leader Dara Calleary and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood.

Mr Murphy said there was "anger and concern" among Irish citizens in the north and their fears had been heightened by events at Westminster this week, where MPs overwhelmingly rejected the EU-UK withdrawal agreement.

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