'Urgent Clarification' Needed For Cross-Border Workers - SF

The Government has been asked to "urgently clarify" issues with the upcoming permit scheme for cross-border workers which will go live at the end of the Brexit transition period.

Sinn Féin MP and Brexit Spokesperson Chris Hazzard raised the issue during a meeting with the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis alongside party colleagues Michelle O'Neill MLA & Declan Kearney MLA.

Mr Hazzard said that he wanted to use the opportunity to "echo the concerns of a growing number of Trade Unions and cross-border bodies who are increasingly anxious at the British Government's handling of this issue".

He said: "There are an estimated 30,000 cross-border workers in Ireland, many of whom cross the border every day for work. It is no surprise that there are more frontier workers in the north of Ireland than any part of Britain, with many of our local industries reliant on these workers, especially along the border corridor from Newry to Derry.
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"The loss of EU protections at the end of the transition period in just 40 days will therefore have a significant impact in local communities here in the north of Ireland.

"Despite the recent publication of the Frontier Workers Regulations which finally sheds some light on the permit scheme for frontier workers, there are a number of serious flaws and inadequacies in the government's handling of this issue - not least the failure to include a genuine public consultation or engagement with local organisations, many of whom still know very little about the scheme due to a very poor awareness campaign by the British Government.

"Furthermore, despite the fact that frontline advice services in the north of Ireland will be disproportionately impacted by this scheme, no additional funding or resources have been made available to assist them in advising frontier workers. Without effective access to advice services, there is a high probability that many cross-border workers will be prevented from accessing their rights under this scheme.

"This is unacceptable; and I have today challenged the Secretary of State to provide clarity and support to our local advice services and cross-border organisations as soon as possible."

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