Big business’ concern over Derry outposts

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Multinationals have been inviting EU experts to their “palatial establishments” to discuss the impact of Brexit on their “outposts” in Derry and Strabane but the Northern Ireland Office and Executive have not been knocking down doors for advice.

That’s according to Professor Cathal McCall, who specialises in EU politics at Queen’s, and who told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee’s inquiry into the ‘Future of the Land Border with the Republic of Ireland’ he’d been surprised at the lack of phone calls from Government.

“I am very disappointed,” Professor McCall told the Committee.

He said he hoped Government would consult more with academics and said that’s what big private sector companies with interests in Derry have been doing.

“We hope that the Northern Ireland Assembly does start to engage fully with academics, the business community and NGOs as well, because it is a vitally important issue,” said Professor McCall.

“Private sector actors are contacting us, inviting us to their palatial establishments to talk about the implications, because they are caught in a state of flux, particularly the multinationals, in terms of wanting to develop their, for want of a better word, outposts in Belfast and Strabane and Derry/Londonderry,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a previous briefing, another academic, Professor Peter Shirlow, from the University of Liverpool, suggested the Brexit vote has been a boost for dissident republicans.

“If you look at the dissidents, Brexit has been a boost to them in terms of their organisational capacity,” he said.

He added: “There are those three things they can argue with: they are anti‑EU, they are anti‑UK and Scottish independence.

“It is allowing them, as the IRA and Sinn Féin did, to go into political commentary and activity, as opposed to simply negative commentary and violence.”