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Newry Chamber Representatives Meet with UK First Secretary of State

Michael McKeown, President of Newry Chamber of Commerce & Trade welcomed The Right Hon Damian Green MP, First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office, along with his advisors and department chiefs to a recent meeting, held at the office of Autoline, Newry to discuss Brexit implications for business.

The Chamber’s party included, Dr Conor Patterson, Cathal Grant of CGDM, George Mullen of ABP Beef, Vincent McGovern of Trans Europe Express, Julie Gibbons of Autoline, Jerome Mullan The Honorory Polish Consulate for Northern Ireland and Liam Hannaway representing Newry, Mourne & Down Council.

In addressing Mr Green, President Michael McKeown said, ‘We are an hospitable people always glad to greet a visitor. In your case we may be justifiably restrained as your presence here raises in us the height of anxiety about our future peace and our prosperity threatened by the United Kingdom’s intent to leave the European Union.

Upon the result of the Referendum of 23th June 2016, I wrote to members urging them to respect the vote but vowing to hold the Brexiteers to their promises of uninterrupted trade and freedom of movement on this island. The anxiety, which tempers our welcome, arises from, our inability to comprehend how those promises can be honoured.

I urge continued patience on all of our members whilst your Government seeks a solution but no solution will have our support unless it meets the promises made by those who lead the successful Brexit campaign. Those promises of continued uninterrupted trade and freedom of movement on this island.’

Chamber Members each gave a short presentation on how customs control or restriction of worker’s movements would affect their individual business. It appeared that a number of Mr Green’s advisors were unaware of the complexity of trading arrangements that have grown up between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland over the past twenty five years since customs controls were removed.

To that end, the meeting may be deemed to have had a successful outcome.