Eastwood: All parties must commit to free movement across Ireland
Mr Eastwood said that those talking about ‘policing’ a North/South Border were fundamentally on the wrong side of the democratic will of people on this island.
“Since the referendum result I have spoken to leaders of political parties and governments across this island and across the continent. There remains a broad consensus that the democratic will of people in the North must be respected.
“That means that there can be no return to a physical border across this island. Any new customs or travel restrictions with Britain must be based around Ireland, not across it. People here endorsed that position in 1998 and voters in the North reaffirmed it when we voted to remain in the European Union.
“Those who now talk about ‘policing’ a North/South division have fundamentally misjudged the mood of people here, just as they misjudged the mood on the referendum. There is no appetite for a return to customs check points in Armagh, Fermanagh, Tyrone or Derry. Even the British Secretary of State recognises that.
“Any hint of a return to a hard border or a separation from single market access in Northern Ireland will deal further damage to investor confidence at a time when FDI is already critically low. This place is unique across these islands, that must be reflected in any negotiations following Brexit.
“Common travel and customs union across this island must not be placed in jeopardy. All parties and both governments must make a public commitment to defending it in future negotiations.
“The SDLP will continue to lead the campaign for a cross party consensus to defend our place in the European Union and defend the democratic will of people in Northern Ireland.”