Published: Tue, November 20, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Senior Northern Ireland politicians meeting Taoiseach for Brexit talks

Senior Northern Ireland politicians meeting Taoiseach for Brexit talks

Sinn Fein's leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill, SDLP leader Colm Eastwood, The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry and Green Party leader Steven Agnew are attending a joint meeting with Mr Varadkar from 10am.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called on those in Westminster to consider Northern Ireland's position in Brexit negotiations.

And despite the document being rejected by senior members of the conservative party and the DUP Mr Varadkar maintained "This is not an end point".

He said: "I could today stand here and take the Prime Minister through the list of promises and pledges that she made to this House and to us privately about the future of Northern Ireland and the future relationship with the European Union but I fear it would be a waste of time since she clearly doesn't listen".

He added: "We must be clear on the fact that a no-deal outcome would be disastrous for Northern Ireland, particularly for the agri-food sector".

He said the draft agreement had fully spelt out the "backstop" arrangement that would apply in Ireland if a wider EU-UK trade deal fails to materialise.

"We can not risk the peace and progress we have made".

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The DUP has threatened to pull its support from the minority government if the backstop means the province is treated differently from mainland Britain, fearing it would amount to an "annexation" by the European Union and boost calls for a united Ireland.

"For those people who are trying to dramatise this, they are getting that badly wrong, they have to have a cool response to this, a rational consideration of the issues before us", he said.

The group said the agreement was "significant" for citizens in the North and not the time for "incendiary language".

"We believe that a border in the Irish Sea is not in the interests of either our farmers or our business owners, because Great Britain is by far our biggest and best market". Dominic Raab argued that the proposed regulatory regime for Northern Ireland would "pose a very real threat" to the UK's integrity.

"Our message is that unionism should come and join us at the table and let us have a collective effort to stand up together".

"It effects all of us equally". However, the DUP and Ulster Unionist parties are not in attendance.

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