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Michelle O'Neill: Trump's invitation to Northern Ireland no longer appropriate

Sinn Fein's new leader at Stormont has said an invitation to US president Donald Trump to visit Northern Ireland jointly issued by her predecessor Martin McGuinness is no longer appropriate.

Michelle O'Neill said she would not extend a similar invitation in the current circumstances.

The invitation penned by then first minister Arlene Foster and deputy first minister Mr McGuinness was sent in the wake of the billionaire's shock election victory in November.

The letter's contents emerged on Thursday, hours before a planned protest at the US consulate in Belfast to voice opposition to Mr Trump's controversial executive order that has temporarily barred citizens from seven mainly Muslim countries entering the US.

Since the letter was sent, the Stormont Executive has imploded amid a green energy scandal.

Democratic Unionist leader Mrs Foster and Sinn Fein veteran Mr McGuinness are no longer in ministerial office and the region is heading to the polls for a snap election in March.

Mrs O'Neill said: "The invitation from the Executive Office was issued immediately after Donald Trump was elected and before he took office.

"Since taking office, President Trump has pursued policies on immigration and the banning of refugees that runs counter to international standards and decency. I believe these are wrong and should not be imposed at Irish airports.

"The actions of President Trump since taking office mean that an invitation to visit would not now be appropriate.

"If I was in the Executive Office at this time I wouldn't issue an invitation and I'm confident that Martin McGuinness wouldn't either."

The November letter congratulated Mr Trump on his election victory and noted Northern Ireland's "strong historical, economic and political ties" to the US.

"We are proud to say that the United States is our largest inward investor and we believe that our relationship has proved mutually beneficial for both your great country and our small but dynamic region," the ministers wrote.

They concluded: "We wish you every success in your new role and we extend an invitation to visit Northern Ireland. You can be assured of a warm welcome."

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