Northern Ireland news

SDLP claim Conservative pledge to create a British system of data equivalence threatens cross-border activity

Matthew O'Toole MLA. Picture by Hugh Russell
Marie Louise McConville

The SDLP has said a Conservative pledge to create a British system of data equivalence threatens a huge range of basic cross-border activity.

Matthew O'Toole MLA, the party's Brexit spokesman, said the creation of such a system for companies, government and third sector organisations, could have a devastating impact on a range of every day cross-border commercial and social life, as well as the delivery of public services.

Mr O'Toole said the potential disruption could include payroll services for tens of thousands of cross-border workers, whether vital personal data can be held and used in the delivery of healthcare, right through to how all-island bodies such as churches, trade unions and sporting organisations hold information on their membership.

He was speaking after British Culture Secretary Michelle Donellan promised to create a British system of data equivalence.

Mr O'Toole said: "While the focus has been on the protocol, largely thanks to DUP and British Government distortion, the damaging impacts of Brexit in a whole range of other areas pile up," he said.

"Data protection laws are a fundamental part of how businesses, governments and civil society have to operate in the digital age. If the Tories force through a pointlessly divergent UK data regime it could threaten a vast range of everyday activity on a north-south basis.

“As the SDLP has repeatedly said, the protocol only protects some north-south activity, but the hard Brexit fantasy projects of the Truss Government threaten a whole series of others."

Northern Ireland news