SDLP representatives have met with their counterparets from across the border on the basis of establishing a closer working relationship with TDs and Senators representing the border region between North and South.
NI SDLP Assembly members held a number of meetings in Leinster House to discuss the range of areas affected by Brexit.
Pat Catney, the party’s spokesperson on Small Business and Enterprise was accompanied by fellow assembly members John Dallat and Sinead Bradley. Councillor Johnny McCarthy was also present.
Speaking afterwards the representatives said: “The SDLP is regularly in Dáil Eireann and has excellent working relationships with the Southern parties. This visit was to focus on the border counties where there are so many challenges to be met as a direct result of Brexit.
“During the course of the day we met TD’s and senators representing the border counties of Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal and further meetings will follow in the North.
“Small business and the hospitality industry were key to our discussions as was tourism and, in particular, the opportunities that must emerge in cross-border tourism.
“While all public representatives are disappointed and concerned about the lack of political progress in the North, there is an urgency to ensure that this does not get in the way of addressing the serious challenges presented by Brexit.
“In this respect our colleagues in Dáil Eireann have clearly been preparing for the different scenarios that may emerge when the full details of the future arrangements are known.
“No sector of commercial activity will escape the upheaval created by this madcap decision to leave the European Union. Our farmers are very worried as are our manufacturers, our wholesalers and retailers. It is clear that the only way to protect the North’s economic interests is to maintain access to the Single Market and Customs Union, ensuring free movement of goods and services across borders.
“Our party Leader Colum Eastwood has also been in discussions with both governments about establishing a border bank using repayments from the Loans to Ireland portfolio as a means of investing in border infrastructure to prepare for Brexit. The SDLP is committed to new thinking to solve the challenges this island faces.”