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Council welcomes positive and informative visit by Barnier

01 May 2018

Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Mayor Cllr Maolíosa McHugh welcomed the European Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier to Derry today as part of his two-day visit to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

During his visit to the City, Mr Barnier met with the Chief Executives of Derry City and Strabane District Council and Donegal County Councils. John Kelpie and Seamus Neely, as well as a range of business stakeholders, cross border groups and companies from the area.

Mr Barnier, as part of his visit took a tour of the historic Guildhall where he was introduced to the Exhibition on the history of the Ulster Plantation and the Siege of Derry and took part in a short walking tour of the historic City Walls.

Welcoming Mr Barnier’s visit to the city, the Mayor Councillor Maolíosa McHugh said he was very pleased that Mr Barnier took time out of his busy schedule to visit Derry and to meet with key businesses and organisations to hear at first hand about their concerns and to give an update on the negotiations.

“The visit was hugely beneficial to everyone involved and a very good opportunity for local businesses and organisations to hear at first hand from Mr Barnier on how EU proposals on Brexit are progressing. It was reassuring to hear from Mr Barnier about his commitment to maintaining the strong cross border exchanges on the island of Ireland after Brexit. I was very impressed with his knowledge and understanding of the situation here in Derry, Tyrone and Donegal and his commitment to seeking practical operational solutions to a complex issue with the provision of a free standing backstop that will ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland.”

The Mayor added that Council will continue to work proactively to look at opportunities and address issues identified as a result of Brexit.

John Kelpie, Chief Executive with Derry City and Strabane District Council said the meeting with Mr Barnier was a very good opportunity to showcase the positive work the Council is doing to mitigate the impact of the challenge of Brexit and maximise the opportunities resulting from it.

He said: “Our research to date demonstrates that it is imperative to ensure that our strategic priorities are realised in relation to connectivity, skills development and infrastructure provision to strengthen our competitive position in what is likely to be a potentially more challenging environment in a post-Brexit era.

“As a Council we are doing a lot of proactive work through our Strategic Growth Plan, and in partnership with our neighbouring Councils, to strengthen our infrastructure, skills base and economy and our ability to absorb any of the coming changes. We will continue to engage with all of those who live and work in the region and look at identifying specific actions required assist with this as the situation develops,” he added.