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Dickson: A vote to exit the EU will leave our nation weak and divided

February 21, 2016 10:54 AM

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: Stewart Dickson (Antrim East)Northern Ireland will remain stronger as part of the European Union, Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson has said, as he confirmed the Alliance Party would support remaining within the EU.

The Party's European spokesperson was speaking after the Prime Minister set the date for the in/out referendum, shortly after agreeing a new deal on Europe which claims to give the UK 'special status' - adding those advocating exiting the EU were risking leaving Northern Ireland in a weakened state.

Stewart Dickson MLA said: "What is clear is that Northern Ireland benefits and continues to reap great rewards through membership of the European Union. Not only have we received structural and cohesion funds in excess of what we put in, but businesses benefit from trade barriers being brought down across Europe.

"While Alliance is unashamedly a pro-European party and will campaign to remain in, we are also not blind to the reforms needed. With too much power held at the Council and Commission, the EU Parliament needs to be strengthened.

"In terms of David Cameron's 'special status' deal, it remains to be seen whether he has acted entirely for narrow party gains, appeasing those within his own ranks, or if he has actually done his job as the Prime Minister of the UK and ensured the best deal for everyone.

"With the date for the referendum set for June, anxiety among those who rely on the European Union is building. Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales all have much to gain from the UK remaining at the heart of Europe.

"A vote to exit the EU will leave our nation weak and divided. We must vote to stay in so that we can build on the benefits of our membership."

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