Today’s generation of young people say they are concerned that they will have to live with the decisions made during the Brexit negotiations, Ireland’s Minister for Children has said.
Katherine Zappone told an Oireachtas committee that today’s youth believe that Brexit will impact profoundly on the island of Ireland, and are also concerned of a return to a hard border.
She added that young people have said that a regression to the violence of the past has to be avoided “at all costs”.
The minister made the comments as she was briefing the Committee on Children and Youth Affairs about some of the features in the Brexit Omnibus Bill.
She said: “I want to highlight some of the issues that have been consistently raised by young people as matters of concern to them.
“They want the Good Friday Agreement to be protected and say that Brexit must not be utilised to drive deeper societal divisions or must not limit opportunities on the island, and work and travel and study opportunities must be maintained.”
Ms Zappone also said that protocols currently in place to deal with child protection issues as well as information sharing policies between police forces in Northern Ireland and the Republic will continue in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Ms Zappone said these “critical issues” were also raised during Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting which discussed the contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit.
Fianna Fail’s Anne Rabbitte questioned how the Government will ensure that child protection issues are covered in the event of the UK crashing out of the European Union.
“In relation to the safeguarding of child protection issues, at the moment we have a good working relationship with the PSNI and have a good working relationship of sharing information across all the borders,” she said.
“Talking in the context of a no-deal Brexit and that sharing of information, what’s your understanding as to where we are going to share information or how are we going to have that child protection issue covered?
“As we are talking about child protection, we are also talking about child trafficking as well as everything else.”
Ms Zappone said: “Child protection issues and sharing of information especially between the PSNI and An Garda Siochana are really critical issues.
“At the same time, we are fully intending that kind of information sharing continues – both in the context of the practices and the protocols that have developed.
“The sharing of the information continues from the perspective of the child’s best interest.”
She said another area of concern for young people is EU Peace Funding.
Youth services are included in the current Peace IV funded programme which, she added, will mean Brexit will impact on peace funding.
“I and my department will continue to advocate for inclusion of youth schemes in any programme and any loss in this area would be a lost opportunity in terms of funding for future youth services both sides of border,” she added.
“While confident that the current Peace Programme will be maintained, any funding impacts on new services as a result of Brexit will be kept under review by 2019.”