MEP Billy Kelleher has called for clarification on the issue of the recognition of educational and professional qualifications for those living in Northern Ireland post-Brexit.
The Fianna Fáil MEP has said that since the deal was published, a number of people have contacted him with concerns over it and an apparent lack of clarity on what it means for those from the North who have received qualifications in the Republic and vice-versa.
Mr Kelleher said that this issue under the new deal will be “quite difficult and cumbersome” for such graduates.
“Under the deal, they won’t be automatically recognised,” he said.
“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 with qualification from northern institutions.”
According to the MEP, there are roughly 2,000 students from the Republic studying in Northern Ireland and a further 900 students from the North, studying in the Republic.
Mr Kelleher said he wants 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’s 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 MEP has warned that any barriers to the right of an all-island economy and the ease of movement of those in both the Republic and Northern Ireland will be an issue.
“Any administrative barrier to this right is a problem, and will only grow, not lessen, over time,” he said. “I believe 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 after Brexit.”