UU forum to debate ‘unique complexity’ of Ulster Brexit

The symposium aims to reach some solutions to key issues surrounding the province and Brexit
The symposium aims to reach some solutions to key issues surrounding the province and Brexit

A major gathering of deciion makers from across the province is to meet to urge action over Northern Ireland’s Brexit plan and consider solutions to address its ‘unique complexity’.

Called by the Ulster University, the Brexit Symposium will take place against the backdrop of a fragile political landscape and the urgency of Brexit negotiations, now further complicated by the Westminster talks.

At it, leading business people, academics, unions, and health care representatives will look for ways to ensure that as the only part of the UK with a physical EU land border, the province secures the best possible deal from the EU discussions.

“The land border with the Republic of Ireland is a strong physical reminder of Northern Ireland’s complex and unique circumstances,” said UU vice-chancellor professor Paddy Nixon.

“Brexit brings major questions and concerns which reverberate across the breadth of key sectors in NI, and the wider UK, with our manufacturing, energy, agri-food, tourism, education and health sectors, amongst countless others, relying on the freedom of trade and labour.”

From restrictions on the free passage of goods to passport checks, prof Nixon said a Brexit deal that failed to fully consider all the implications of a physical land border could have “devastating” consequences for jobs and livelihoods, and potentially, for the peace process.”

“The real danger is that those who have the most at stake – the businesses, universities like mine, the farmers, patients and more – are forgotten because other complex issues take priority.

“Today, more than 150 industry chief executives and community leaders have come together to work productively and inclusively to deliver solutions and identify opportunities.

“We urge the UK Government to hear our concerns and utilise our knowledge. As Brexit becomes a reality it is our civic responsibility to support and encourage the innovation, leadership and vision needed to help Northern Ireland thrive and, provide solutions to even the most complex problems.”

The symposium is focused on delivering open discussions on Brexit and Northern Ireland with the aim of delivering solutions to key issues.

Open workshops with leaders from across industry and wider society will debate and generate workable solutions that could potentially safeguard the wider prosperity of the UK economy.

Organisations represented range from groups such as the the CBI, FSB, the UFU and the Belfast Harbour Commission to individuals firms like Moy Park and Hastings Hotel Group and govt bodies and agencies including Invest NI, Letterkenny Institute of Technology the Department of Health and Catalyst Inc.