Council calls for special status

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Derry City and Strabane District Council has backed a motion calling for the North to be granted special status within the European Union post-Brexit.

At its May meeting on Thursday the council approved the motion, which was brought forward by Sinn Féin Councillor Dan Kelly, supporting the “granting of Special Designated Status for the north of Ireland within the EU”.

The motion was backed by both Sinn Féin and the SDLP, for whom special status is official party policy.

Several independent councillors also backed the motion, however, unionist councillors were opposed.

Speaking in support of his motion Colr. Kelly said people across the North were “angry and annoyed that their future and their children’s future” was being decided by people who are unlikely to act in “our best interests”.

Colr. Kelly said that Derry and Strabane’s economic potential had been stifled for 70 years by the hard border of partition and he argued that entry into the single market and the benefits arising from European peace, inter-regional and social funding, had helped ameliorate those affects somewhat.

The Sinn Féin Councillor said that with the Northern Irish economy forecast to represent just two per cent of the UK economy by 2019 the plight of local citizens will be an afterthought in London.

SDLP Councillor Shauna Cusack said she had no problem supporting special status but said Sinn Féin were following the SDLP’s lead.

She pointed out that SDLP leader Colum Eastwood had called for special status from the floor of the Assembly in October 2016.

DUP Alderman Graham Warke opposed the motion and said “Northern Ireland joined the EU as part of the UK and we will leave as part of the UK”.