Hanna: We must step up North/South Integration and Cooperation
SDLP Brexit Spokesperson Claire Hanna MLA said:
“The SDLP welcomes the efforts of the Irish Government to meet the increased demand for Irish passports from citizens in Northern Ireland. The Irish Government has a critical role to play in safeguarding the rights and entitlements of people in the North as citizens of the European Union. All those born in Northern Ireland, from whatever community background, are entitled to carry an Irish passport, a British passport or both.
“With the British Government dragging us out of the European Union against the will of the people of Northern Ireland, we must step up the process of North/South integration and cooperation.
“The SDLP has long called for the establishment of passport offices in Belfast and Derry as one step to securing this integration and ensuring that the demand for Irish passports is met with ease.
“Today I’ve written to the Irish Government welcoming their efforts to ensure Irish citizens can exercise their rights by way of an Irish passport but to also request that all efforts are now made to bring Irish passport offices here to the North.
“It also means we must integrate our communities across the island in a way that we have not yet achieved. For instance the SDLP has been highlighting for years that one powerful recognition of our shared identity would be to grant Irish citizens here in Northern Ireland the right to choose our President.
“As we move forward now in 2018, we cannot shy away from the fact that we are facing into an unprecedented time of change. Brexit poses a significant challenge to this island, it is vital that all of us North and South rise to meet that challenge. For our part the SDLP has been consistent and clear, we will work to protect the rights and freedoms of everyone here. We want to ensure access to the single market and the customs union. We want no border in the island of Ireland and we want to protect the socio-economic future for all citizens across these islands."