FIRST Minister Arlene Foster has said she is confident the people of Fermanagh will “see through the spin” and “scaremongering” deployed by the Remain campaign ahead of next week’s EU referendum.
Claiming that the overall benefits of the UK leaving the EU would benefit Northern Ireland, such as allowing “control of our laws, control of our finances and control of our borders,” Ms Foster said the Remain campaign had caused fear locally but she was “confident the people of Fermanagh and the rest of Northern Ireland will be able to see through that spin.”
Stating the UK sent at least £33 million to the EU each day which it did not get back, the First Minister said she believed “everyone in all parts of the UK would benefit from having that money spent on public services here.”
With regard to fears over the return of border checkpoints, Ms Foster said no one in the North, even those in support of a Brexit, supported the introduction of a ‘hard border’, and she believed this also applied to the Government in the South. She added there had been a Common Travel Area in place between the UK and Ireland since before either country joined the EU.
“In the negotiations between the UK and the Republic of Ireland following a UK exit from the EU there would be no one arguing for this to happen,” she said, adding there were examples of soft borders between some EU members and non-EU states.
“We should also bear in mind the huge advances in technology which can be put in place to monitor border crossings.
We already know that every vehicle which crosses between Northern Ireland and the Republic is logged through the use of ANPR cameras.
First Minister Foster also moved to reassure farmers, stating they would have more control over their future outside the EU.
“There is no denying how heavily agriculture relies on the subsidies farmers currently receive from the EU,” she said. “However, the debate is not about whether farm subsidy will continue or be stopped.
The question is one of who will pay the subsidy and who will set these levels, the priorities that will govern them, and the regulatory framework which will govern them.
“The notion that farm incomes are somehow ‘guaranteed’ if we remain inside the EU is simply wrong. CAP funding levels until 2020 have been agreed, and local farmers already know this will see subsidy levels fall.
Beyond 2020 there is absolutely no certainty about what farmers will receive, other than indications already emanating from Brussels that CAP funding will be one of the main targets for further budget cuts.
Further eastward movement of funding will further put pressure on local farm payments.”
Referring to the money that could be saved by the Treasury if the UK left the EU, she added:
“I believe it will be easier to set priorities locally that will benefit farmers rather than having this filtered through Brussels first.”
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Posted: 1:00 pm June 17, 2016