Issues on economy, youth and the future need to be tackled - MLAs

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UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson has said major issues need to be addressed following last week’s decision by the UK to leave the European Union.

Mrs Dobson said it was disappointing that both campaigns opted to focus on fear rather than facts and claimed the Brexit result had thrown up a series of challenges for both Governments, in London and Stormont.

Catherine Seeley

Catherine Seeley

“There is a long way to go yet. The result is clear and we must now work together, rather than apart in taking the path which is now before us. Major issues remain to be addressed.”

She said: “Uncertainty was always going to be a factor whatever the result – the measure of NI is how the Executive rises to meet the challenges which we will all face.”

Meanwhile DUP Upper Bann MLA Carla Lockhart said she looks forward to working with the UK government and negotiating with them for the best interests of NI.

She said, “I welcome the democratic vote of the people of the UK to leave the EU and particularly the 52.6% of people in Upper Bann.

‘We should be mindful of the longer term implications’

“During the Assembly election in May the DUP made clear we believed the UK was better to leave. We received a mandate and returned as the largest party in NI. We have the opportunity to reclaim our country, to ease the burden on the NHS and reinvest in farming and fishing industries.

“Many believe the EU pumps money into the UK but it is money which we the taxpayer have been burdened with. We are restricted to EU trade agreements and pay tariffs on goods from outside the trade block. We do not oppose immigration but believe more control over it will benefit the UK economy.”

MLA Catherine Seeley expressed concern for young people after leave vote

As Sinn Féin spokesperson for childcare, children and young people Ms Seeley described it as the “heart wrenching” referendum result result.

MLA Carla Lockhart

MLA Carla Lockhart

At the Assembly she reiterated SF’s support for extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds: “Their level of engagement in the Scottish referendum was unprecedented – if their vote was good enough then – why not now?

Ms Seeley added: “Thursday’s result will impact more greatly, not on those who are 50 plus and who voted in their thousands to leave, but on our children and our children’s children as opportunities to study, live, love and work in 27 other countries gaining invaluable life experiences is snatched away from them.

“Young people denied opportunities, experiences and friendships – certainly not a legacy to be proud of. Linkages between universities will now be severed, the Erasmus school exchange programme called into question and those young people, from our neighbouring countries, who have taken a brave step to live and work here now face huge levels of uncertainties.

She also raised the threat of a ‘brain-drain’. “We must not be raising our children like our cattle - for export.”

John O'Dowd MLA

John O'Dowd MLA

Her party colleague John O’Dowd MLA said the leave vote would affect the most vulnerable in society.

“No matter how you look at this group of islands, they are divided like they have never been divided before. We have to recognise that the EU referendum result is the biggest single social and economic shock to hit the island of Ireland since partition.

“Regardless of where your allegiances lie, whether they lie with the Union or, as mine and those of my party colleagues do, with the reunification of Ireland, we have to deal with it.

Mr O’Dowd added: “We can now be certain that the £350 million a week that was promised to the health service is not going to the health service. We will not be able to stop immigration.

He added that it would be those on the breadlilne who would suffer “The losses that were seen on the stock markets across the globe on Friday will have a trickle-down impact. Who will pay for those losses? It will not be big business; we learned that from the last recession.”