Northern Ireland news

Ireland's Future and Nicva voice concerns about impact of UK Internal Market Bill

Ireland's Future secretary Niall Murphy called for the UK Internal Market Bill to be withdrawn. Picture by Mal McCann

CIVIC society groups have raised concerns about the impact of the British government's UK Internal Market Bill on the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process.

The bill, which Secretary of State Brandon Lewis conceded would breach international law, is currently being considered by MPs before it is expected to go to the House of Lords.

Politicians from Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance, alongside their counterparts in Cardiff and Edinburgh, have all voiced concern about what they regard as the bill's encroachment on devolved powers.

Niall Murphy, secretary of Ireland's Future, called for the bill to be withdrawn, claiming it undermined the Irish protocol, the Good Friday Agreement and the power-sharing institutions.

"Ireland's Future rejects this utterly unacceptable attack on vital legal protections, and this further attempt by the British government to damage our peace process," he said.

"We want to see the Irish protocol implemented properly and effectively. It will limit some of the damage of Brexit by, for example, avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland."

Mr Murphy called on the parties opposing Brexit to "engage together on how we are going to share this island differently in the future".

Seamus McAleavy, chief executive of Nicva, the umbrella body of the north's third sector groups, also said his organisation was "extremely concerned" about the potential impact of the UK Internal Market Bill on the "future peace, stability, and economic well-being of people in Northern Ireland".

"After the years of negotiation between the EU and UK government that led to the safeguards agreed in UK's EU Withdrawal Agreement for Northern Ireland's future, it is alarming to see a bill introduced which, if passed, could undo parts of this agreement, and in so doing break international law.

"Far from providing certainty, as its authors claim, this bill can only lead to uncertainty and anxiety for Northern Ireland's future,” he said.

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