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DUP claims anti-Brexit stance 'will help to encourage dissident violence'

By Noel McAdam

Sinn Fein has hit out at DUP claims that the party's stance on Brexit could encourage dissident republican violence.

Outgoing East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson claimed Sinn Fein's "terrorist friends" will use republican rhetoric "to justify any campaign of violence".

But the republican party said the comments were "rich" given the DUP's campaign supporting an EU withdrawal had been "bought by dark money".

The comment was a reference to a Brexit donation of about £435,000 from a group of pro-union business people called Constitutional Research Council chaired by Richard Cook, a former vice chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

It came after Mr Wilson said Sinn Fein's only role in negotiations on new border customs arrangements will be to "whinge from the sidelines". Mr Wilson argued Sinn Fein's "election lie" that Brexit will lead to border fences, customs posts and disruption of people and trade was exposed as nonsense by EU official Michel Barnier who visited Dublin last week.

"First of all, the UK Government and, once it comes down to negotiations EU governments, are going to want a free trade deal which disrupts their economies, employment and trade patterns as little as possible.

"Since we are starting from a position of similar standards, established markets and common interest this objective should be easily achieved," he said.

"Secondly, where checks are required this can be done using electronic means at various points inside our respective countries. We all currently travel on toll roads in the Republic, have movements checked and bills issued without ever having to be stopped because of Vehicle Recognition Technology. Thankfully Sinn Fein will be nowhere near these negotiations or even the discussions in Westminster since those who vote for them are wasting votes on people who refuse to do the job they are elected to, so their only contribution will be to whinge and complain from the sidelines about outcomes which all the evidence shows will never happen. The sad thing is that their terrorist friends will use their election rhetoric to justify any campaign of violence which they decide to pursue but on past records Sinn Fein will see that as a further negotiating lever."

But a Sinn Fein spokesperson said: "Sammy Wilson's comments are rich from a party whose support for Brexit and Tory cuts at Westminster was bought by dark money. Every vote for the DUP is a vote for Brexit for borders and for Tory cuts and austerity, their support bought and paid for by anonymous individuals.

"Sinn Fein MPs will be working where it matters as part of an all-island team of elected representatives in Belfast, London, Dublin and Brussels for equality, for rights for all and for Irish unity rather than sitting on benches on Westminster as cheerleaders for Tory cuts and contempt for the interests of the people of the north."

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