Earlier this week I attended the Labour Party conference in Brighton and emphasised the SDLP committment to keeping Northern Ireland within the European Union. I took part in panel discussions and met senior Labour party officials on the subject of a potential UK exit from the EU.
An exit from the European Union remains an unthinkable retrograde step for many parts of the UK but perhaps most particularly in Northern Ireland where foreign direct investment will be essential if we are to provide a future of peace and prosperity for our people.
The uncertainty caused by this referendum will itself dent the confidence of investors as they decide where to create jobs, not to mention the harm such upheaval will cause in trade between the North and the rest of Ireland.
I have talked to both Vernon Coaker and Alan Johnson about these concerns and we will endeavour to work with Irish Labour and the Labour party in Britain to ensure that we stay in the EU. An exit would prove disastrous for Ireland, North and South in terms of trade, the economy and the free movement of people.