Northern Ireland news

Campaigners welcoming Dublin's 'positive' response to post-Brexit MEPs proposal

The European Parliament in Strasbourg wherfe it is hoped Northern Ireland MEPs can sit after Brexit. Picture by AFP Photo/Frederick Florin

Campaigners hoping to secure post-Brexit representation for Northern Ireland in the European Parliament say they are encouraged by Dublin's response to the idea.

Francis Costello, a former fellow of Queen's University's Centre for Conflict Transformation who also served in the Clinton administration, and Ulster University senior law lecturer Ciaran White are determined that Brexit will not signal the end of MEPs from the north sitting in Strasbourg and Brussels.

It is expected that the region's three MEPs – the DUP's Diane Dodds, Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson and Ulster Unionist Jim Nicholson – will be out of a job next year.

Mr Costello and Mr White wrote to Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney with their proposal for post-Brexit representation.

The tanaiste's office responded by saying Dublin was determined to protect all parts of the Good Friday Agreement.

"Discussions on the rights of individuals are ongoing as part of the phase two negotiations on issues related to Ireland and Northern Ireland," the letter from the minister's office said.

"Further engagement is needed on which EU rights, opportunities or benefits can be exercised by the people of Northern Ireland who are Irish and therefore EU citizens, when they are resident in Northern Ireland, which will be outside the territory of the European Union after the UK departure."

Mr Costello described the comments as "positive ".

"This clear thinking must be met with a positive reaction from within the EU itself and in that effort the Irish government must lead the way," he said.

"We continue to argue that two European seats should be but allocated as a matter of right for Northern Ireland post-Brexit given the EU role in cross-border funding will continue and a full range of economic issues for the island wide economy post-Brexit."

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