Maintaining the free movement of people between the Republic and Northern Ireland is crucial to the economic and social well being of workers, ICTU Vice President, Owen Reidy, told the SIPTU Services Division Biennial Conference in Portlaoise, County Laois, this morning (Friday, 2nd November). Reidy said: “An estimated 20,000 people commute daily between the Republic and Northern Ireland. We need to maintain the free movement of people on the island and ensure their barriers are not placed in the way of workers commuting to work or for any other reason between the two jurisdictions.”  Reidy also said that the fallout from the Brexit vote has already severely undermined relations between the north and the south of Ireland. Commenting on discussions with political leaders from across Ireland and the UK, he said: “I think relations are at an all-time low. That fragile constitutional settlement that everyone bought into with the Good Friday Agreement could be on the line.” He added that what form Brexit would finally take was still extremely unclear with divisions concerning how to approach the issue within both major political parties in Britain greatly complicating matters. “Britain is more divided than ever over Brexit along many lines including age, class, education, income, urban or rural”, he said.  “It has also allowed the spectre of racism to again become a factor in that State’s domestic politics. However, as a body which represents workers on this island of all political views on the constitutional issue and one which fundamentally believes in the power of internationalism, conference can be assured that Congress will ensure that workers’ interests are defended during the Brexit process.”