The Centre for Democracy and Peace Building launches EU Debate NI

CDPB launches EU Debate NI

Following negotiations with EU members, the British Government has committed itself to holding a referendum on the question as to whether the UK should remain a member or leave the European Union. This referendum will take place before the end of 2017.

This referendum is of huge importance to the Northern Ireland.

Given the significance of the referendum, the Centre for Democracy and Peace Building (CDPB) is launching an “EU Debate NI” programme.

The EU Debate NI will examine the potential consequences, specifically for Northern Ireland, of the UK deciding to remain in or leave the European Union. It will stimulate, through stakeholder consultation and engagement, discussion of issues that should inform the debate.

The initial consultation will draw on a briefing paper developed in partnership with academic experts from Queen’s University Belfast and University College Cork. The paper sets out questions to be considered about the consequences of the outcome of this referendum for Northern Ireland. The questions cover political and constitutional issues, key policies such as free movement and agriculture, trade and funding.

Speaking at the launch at the Great Hall, Queen’s University Belfast, Chairman of CDPB Lord Alderdice said:

“In or Out; Yes or No; whatever the result, it will arguably impact more on Northern Ireland than any other part of these islands. And yet, until now the debate in Northern Ireland has been overshadowed by other concerns. Consent is the basis of democracy and we want the decision of the people of Northern Ireland – whatever it is – to be based on ‘informed consent’. That is why we want to encourage a serious community conversation about the EU Referendum.”

David Phinnemore, Professor of European Politics and Head of the School Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast added:

“The EU referendum will be hugely important for Northern Ireland economically, politically, possibly even constitutionally. It raises a range of issues that simply have not featured in the wider UK debate so far and which need to be thought through, discussed and debated well in advance of citizens casting their vote to remain in or leave the EU. Today’s event is a first in stimulating that much needed discussion and debate.”

Conor Houston, CDPB Programme Director said:

“The EU Referendum is one of the most important decisions in a generation for people in Northern Ireland. The consequences of both remaining in and leaving the EU will have an impact on the daily lives of all the people here. This is why it is of vital importance that we have collective debate and it is essential that this debate is informed. We want to have an inclusive debate which engages everyone in Northern Ireland and includes our views in the UK wide debate.”

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