THE economic prosperity of the island of Ireland shows the benefits of membership of the European single market, according to the SNP.

The Northern Ireland economy was outperforming the rest of the UK, according to figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in November.

Economic output in Northern ­Ireland in the third quarter of last year was only 0.3% below that of the final quarter of 2019, before the ­pandemic, performing better than any other in the UK.

It was ahead of the UK’s overall economic recovery, which fell 2.1% over the same period.

The SNP said this pointed to it ­prospering under the Northern ­Ireland protocol which keeps it ­within the European single market, while the Scottish economy suffered a 6% hit over the same time.

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The party also highlighted ­statistics which show how the Republic of Ireland has become economically stronger after it joined the European Community in 1973.

Export figures from the Irish ­Central Statistics Office show in that year, Ireland exported nearly 55% of its goods to the UK. Now 90% of the country’s exports are to non-UK ­destinations.

Data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) shows that Ireland’s GDP per person has gone from being 66% of the UK’s in 1973 to over 200% in 2020.

Meanwhile, the country was ranked second in the world for quality of life in 2020, according to the ­United Nations’ Human ­Development Index. 

Ireland moved up one place from the 2019 Index, overtaking Switzerland and second only to Norway.

SNP Northern Ireland spokesperson Richard Thomson MP said: “These figures illustrate the benefits of being in the largest ­single market in the world – a market around seven times bigger than the UK alone.

“They also expose how the ­arguments of Westminster Unionists that Scotland should only rely on trade with one single state are not borne out by the reality of Ireland’s experience North and South.

“They also show how member states of the EU are supported by the EU whilst Westminster ignores constituent countries. Ireland batted for Remain-voting Northern Ireland and the economic benefits can be seen.

“Westminster ignored the people of Scotland and the economic damage they have caused can also be seen.

“Scotland is paying an outrageous price for being ignored by Westminster for a Brexit inflicted on us against our will. These figures mean crippling lost revenue for businesses across the Scottish economy and, in turn, that means lost jobs, lost income and hardship for families up and down the country.

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“Meanwhile Northern Ireland has been insulated against the worst ­effects of Brexit because they remain in the EU’s single market.

“These figures illustrate that being controlled and ignored by Westminster is anything other than a disaster for Scotland. How on earth can Scotland prosper and progress when it is cut off from the world’s largest single market in a UK that has the lowest GDP per head, worst economic productivity, highest poverty rates, and greatest inequality amongst its neighbours?

“Only with the full powers of independence and as an equal partner to our neighbours can Scotland break this downward spiral and develop into a progressive, forward-thinking and prosperous nation.”