Europe is adopting 'hardline' attitude to Brexit Britain, says Martin McGuinness
Europe is adopting a "hardline" approach towards the British Government over Brexit, Martin McGuinness said.
The Sinn Fein leader spent last week in Brussels meeting key negotiators from the European Parliament. Exit talks are due to begin next year .
The Stormont deputy first minister is pushing for special status for Northern Ireland after 56% voted remain in the June referendum.
He said: "I have to say it was a very hardline position towards the British Government from almost everybody that I met.
"That does not mean to say it will be a hardline position when it comes to triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty."
Concerns have been expressed in Northern Ireland about the impact of Brexit on the peace process as well as the economy.
However, the largest party, the Democratic Unionists, campaigned for an exit and have argued that there will be greater flexibility in some areas once the UK has left.
Mr McGuinness said: "All of us who have been through negotiations in the past know how all of this works so I think at the moment the important thing from our perspective is that there is an appreciation among the powers that be in Europe about the fantastic achievements we have had here through peace and so forth in which they have had a major contribution.
"They are stakeholders also in our peace process through the massive investments."
European money was used to build the peace bridge over the River Foyle in Londonderry and to support scores of grassroots peace building efforts.
Mr McGuinness added: "I think people in Europe are under no illusions whatsoever about the special nature of the problems that we have to deal with."