Nicva backs remaining in the European Union

A poll of members of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action finds 80 per cent support the position

The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action has said it supports the UK remaining in the European Union.

The umbrella body, which has about 1,100 voluntary and community sector members, said it came to the position after a poll of members showed that 80 per cent of those that responded were in favour of remaining in the EU.

The charity said its executive committee unanimously agreed last month that it should support the remain campaign.

Seamus McAleavey, chief executive of Nicva, said the outcome of the referendum would have far-reaching effects on all the people of Northern Ireland.

"Nicva believes, on balance, that Northern Ireland is better remaining in the EU for economic and social reasons," he said.

"Many of the social policies promoted and supported by the EU are important to Nicva members across Northern Ireland. The EU is at the forefront of tackling poverty by, among others things, supporting access to skills and employment, helping people with disabilities into training and employment and promoting workers’ rights.

"To support leaving is to take a huge risk, a leap into the unknown but likely to have a detrimental impact on attracting foreign investment into Northern Ireland."

Guidance issued by the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland in March said charities could take part in political activity or campaigning in the run-up to the referendum if they remained independent of any political party or politician and the trustees acted with due care.

Any activity must support a charity’s charitable purposes, not be prohibited in its governing document and be in the charity’s best interests, the guidance said.

A spokeswoman for the National Council for Voluntary Organisations said she anticipated it would remain neutral in the debate.

The referendum takes place on 23 June.

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