Polls show most of the nation want to remain part of the EU
Amid calls for a referendum on a united Ireland, a former North Irish politician has claimed the region should be handed a special status.
With Brexit negotiations due to to get underway after the General Election on June 8, Northern Ireland will be the UK’s only land border with the EU, throwing up a host of questions and issues to be thrashed out.
Former European Commission head in Belfast Jane Morrice has mooted the idea as a solution to problems unique to Northern Ireland which Brexit creates.
She said: “Honorary EU membership would protect the peace process by avoiding a hard border and allowing Northern Ireland to remain part of the UK and part of the EU in keeping with the consent principle of the Good Friday Agreement.
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"It would allow citizens of Northern Ireland to remain European and retain their rights, and it would ensure continued support for peace and prosperity in the region."
Nationalists are calling for Northern Ireland to be given a special status post-Brexit, but the Democratic Unionists supported Leave.
And the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) is the latest body to call for a referendum on a united Ireland in the wake of Brexit, allowing Northern Ireland to remain part of the 27-member bloc.
Nationalists are calling for Northern Ireland to be given a special status
Championing de-facto membership as a solution, Ms Morrice continued: "Honorary EU membership would do that and would avoid further destabilising the delicately-balanced Northern Ireland political institutions by maintaining the status quo, but only if the request is put by the UK and Ireland at the behest of the Northern Ireland Assembly/Executive.
"It would exceptionally give Northern Ireland the right to retain the benefits of EU membership and maintain an open border, while remaining part of the UK.
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Former European Commission head in Belfast Jane Morrice has mooted the idea
Honorary EU membership would protect the peace process
"In keeping with the (Good Friday) agreement, which affords Northern Ireland citizens the right to be British and Irish, therefore European, it would defend citizens' rights and protect the peace process by ensuring continued EU support for peace and prosperity as well as joint UK/Ireland co-operation to that end."
She said power-sharing talks with Stormont offered an alternative to the two options currently being discussed.
Polls show most of the nation want to remain part of the EU.
Ms Morrice, a former member of the Women’s Coalition, was instrumental in the peace talks which led to the 1998 accord, and claimed her proposal could help Northern Ireland share its experience with reconciliation to heal the rift between the UK and the EU.
She said Northern Ireland could become a European hub for global peace building
She said Northern Ireland could become a European hub for global peace building.
Ms Morrice said: "Honorary EU membership would not only protect the peace process and counter any negative impact of Brexit but also promote peace worldwide by making Northern Ireland the launchpad of a new EU-led global peace-building initiative.”