15/11/2018

Pro-Remain Parties Share Positive Brexit Outlook After Dublin Meeting

Representatives from Northern Ireland's pro-remain political parties have said the highly controversial draft Brexit agreement is an opportunity for optimism.

Members of the SDLP, Sinn Fein, Alliance and the Northern Ireland Green Party met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney on Thursday 15 November in Dublin.

Reflecting after the meeting, Sinn Fein's leader for NI Michelle O'Neill said: "We have had a very positive meeting, where we were able to seek some assurances over what has been achieved in the agreement so far.

"We set out as four pro-remain parties with a common objective, in the first instance we speak for a majority in Northern Ireland, and we're conscious that the DUP do not speak for the majority in the north."

In a statement, Mrs O'Neill added that the parties have "worked together to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts, to prevent the return of a hard border on the island of Ireland and to protect our economy, all-Ireland trade and jobs and the future of our children".
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SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has highlighted the security of the backstop as a main priority, and called on those in Westminster to consider Northern Ireland's position in Brexit negotiations.

"I know you have your own constituencies but we have a responsibility, and I think everyone has a responsibility to avoid a hard border, this does that," he urged MPs.

"We cannot risk the peace and progress we have made."

Stephen Farry, deputy leader of the Alliance party called for cool heads as negotiations continue and criticised those creating hysteria around the Northern Ireland element of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

"Disappointed that @UKLabour are dramatising the backstop in the same way as the DUP," he said in a Tweet.

"This is unnecessary and unhelpful to resolving Brexit."

The pro-remain group also appealed to the Democratic Unionists to join them at the discussion table to protect Northern Ireland's future.

"This deal has the potential for us to have the best of both worlds, to be a bridge to the market in Ireland and Great Britain, a source of potential investment," Mr Farry added.

"We’re very open to unionism engaging in this process, we have a common interest in protecting Northern Ireland.

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



(JG/MH)

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