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Dickson: We must have a voice on issues impacting us in NI

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has backed calls for greater interaction between the Assembly and the European Parliament, allowing for local representatives direct input into legislation affecting Northern Ireland.

Speaking during a debate in the Assembly, Mr Dickson said the current vacuum is a direct impact of Brexit and the ending of Northern Ireland electing its own MEPs.

He added: “Brexit cut Northern Ireland off when in reality much of the legislation still being developed will have scope here.

“That’s why it is essential we see a fully structured process that allows for representatives from Northern Ireland to feed into the process and that this interparliamentary dialogue would allow for this discussion.

“We also need to ensure we keep dialogue open regarding the protocol.  What I am hearing from businesses is that the Protocol is presenting challenges, but scrapping it is not the solution.  This is probably the first time in decades that Northern Ireland has had a competitive advantage over surrounding regions.

“So far it has been clear we have had poor representation from the UK Government.  We need a voice – to resolve the issues of the Protocol and maximise the potential benefits for businesses and people in Northern Ireland.

“The past year has been wasted through delusions and confrontation.  Despite the negativity from the DUP and UUP and outright hostility from the TUV we all need to sit down and work on solutions.”