28 December 2020
By Bryan Smyth
The Cork based Fianna Fáil MEP Billy Kelleher has called for clarification on the issue of mutual recognition of educational and professional qualifications for people living in Northern Ireland after January 1st 2021 when the UK leaves the EU.
“Since the text of the deal was published a number of days ago, a number of people have been in touch with me to raise their concerns over the apparent lack of clarity in the deal.
“Under the deal, they won’t be automatically recognised. This will be quite difficult and cumbersome for graduates from Northern Ireland who earn a qualification from an educational institution in the Republic and potentially for students from the Republic who get their qualification from a northern institution.
“There are roughly 2000 students from the Republic studying in the north every year, with a further 900 students from Northern Ireland studying in the Republic. I want these numbers to increase but recognition must be as seamless as possible in order to make this a possibility.
“While I’m led to believe there is framework in the deal for the UK and EU to agree on mutually recognising individual qualifications, it will be weaker than what is currently available.
“In the grand scheme of the wider EU-UK deal, these are small issues, but for our island, they are very important. The central point of a shared island, an all-island economy, is ease of movement and work across the whole island.
“Any administrative barriers to this right is a problem, and will only grow, not lessen, over time.
“I believe that the Irish Government’s Shared Island Unit should expand its remit to deal with issues such as education. We must do all in our power to avoid any divergence between north and south in the years after Brexit,” concluded Kelleher.