Community split on Brexit '˜sad' says Hay

Willie Hay has declared it sad that nationalists and unionists have divided over Brexit and warned European negotiators that they need to bat for both communities.

Friday, 11th May 2018, 10:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:01 pm

He also branded claims that the peace process is under threat as outlandish.

“The longer the debate goes on around Brexit and how the Irish border issue might be resolved, it is further dividing both communities in Northern Ireland,” said the DUP veteran.

“Unionists are now taking one side of the argument and nationalists are taking the other. That is sad. Negotiators in Europe need to realise that they must take a balanced approach to how they deal with Northern Ireland, and especially to how they deal with both communities.

“They should be batting for both communities, but, at the moment, it is seen from a unionist point of view that the negotiators in Brussels, and especially the Irish Government, are on one side of the fence. We will see over the next number of months whether that changes,”he added.

The Milford-native, an Irish passport-holder who now takes the title, Lord Hay of Ballyore, in the House of Lords, said no-one in the North wants a hard border.

“None of us, after we leave Europe, wants infrastructure on the border. I could not be any clearer on that. We do not want infrastructure on the border; we want the free movement of traffic and people across the border, with maximum access for goods and services,” he said.

Yet the former Derry City councillor said any attempts to separate the customs regimes of the North and Great Britain would be resisted.

“Anything that treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of this United Kingdom, we cannot accept,” he said.

He further said claims the peace process may be at risk have been overcooked

“That is very much like blackmail - that is how it sounds. If you live in Northern Ireland, you know the reality.”