The Brexit vote paves the way for new opportunities, according to the North’s first minister.
In a bid to stem concerns raised in the Stormont Assembly, Arlene Foster vowed to “work for the good of all the people” in any forthcoming negotiations. “I absolutely fundamentally believe that this vote gives us the opportunity for ambition, for innovation, for flexibility, and for imagination.”
Of the five largest parties at Stormont, only Ms Foster’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) advocated leaving the EU. She faced repeated questions from MLAs about how she would reconcile her party political views with the 56% of voters who voted Remain.
She added: “I know that there are a lot of people in Northern Ireland who are disappointed, there are a lot of people who are angry, there are a lot of people who have made all sorts of terrible prophecies of doom and if others want to engage in navel gazing that is fine, my focus is on doing what is right for all of the people of Northern Ireland in terms of the negotiations that will be coming up very soon.”
Meanwhile, assurances were offered to the thousands of migrants living and working in the region. Ms Foster said“the vote on Thursday was to leave the institutions of the European Union. It was not to leave Europe. Therefore we have very close ties with the peoples of Europe and those close ties will continue.”
Three hours had been set aside for a special debate on Brexit after an emergency motion was tabled by the leader of the opposition, Mike Nesbitt. At times the speaker, Robin Newton, had to reprimand MLAs, telling them to show respect.
Opening the discussion, Mr Nesbitt said the “political crisis” had plunged the country into uncertainty. However, the outcome must be accepted, he said.
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