Finance Minister Máirtín Ó’Muilleoir has warned Creggan will be one of the communities hardest hit by Brexit during a clash with Foyle People Before Profit MLA Eamonn McCann at Stormont on Monday.
But Mr McCann said the impact of the prospective withdrawal of European Union funding streams was a red herring and that downward pressure on wages and an “imminent catastrophe” in home-care services are the real pressing issues for his constituents.
“Does he not agree that the factors over the next few years that will most affect and most impact on the well-being, economic security and hopes for the future of the mass of our people have to do with downward pressure on wages, loss of jobs in the private and public sectors, cuts to benefits and the imminent catastrophe — I mean ‘imminent’ and I mean ‘catastrophe’ — in home-care services?” asked Mr McCann.
Mr Ó’Muilleor said he believed Mr McCann was minimising the danger of Brexit and said EU funding had benefittd areas like the Bogside and that an end to it would badly affect areas like Creggan.
“Feeding that in, we absolutely need to be vigilant about this funding, and not just because it amounts to hundreds of millions of euros going to great projects such as the Free Derry museum, the Skainos Centre in east Belfast, WAVE, Relatives for Justice and other bodies,” he said.
“The impact of Brexit, which I will work hard to prevent, would be felt harder in the Creggan than in Bangor, with all my best wishes to Bangor.
“It would be felt harder in Sandy Row than in parts of my constituency along the Malone Road. When we appear sanguine about the possible Brexit, we do a disservice not only to our ethnic minorities or those trying to build businesses but to those who are building the peace - the peacemakers and bridge-builders in our working-class communities,” he added.