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DUP 'out of touch' with majority in Northern Ireland on Brexit, says Sinn Fein chief O'Neill

Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O'Neill has accused the DUP of being out of touch with the population on Brexit.

Mrs O'Neill was speaking after Northern Ireland's four pro-Remain parties met trade unions, university representatives and the community and voluntary sector at Stormont on Monday.

The Mid Ulster MLA said that there was "unprecedented unity among representatives of civic society, business and the remain supporting parties".

A vote on Theresa May's draft Brexit withdrawal deal is set to take place next Tuesday, December 11.

It faces opposition from the DUP, the Labour Party and a section of MPs within Mrs May's own Conservative Party.

The DUP is unhappy that the deal will see Northern Ireland aligned with EU rules and remain part of the single market with checks on some goods coming in from the UK to Northern Ireland, if the Brexit backstop is implemented.

Mrs O'Neill said that there is "no good to come from Brexit".

“There is broad agreement between our parties and the various representatives at today’s discussion that we must protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts," the Sinn Fein Vice President said.

“Brexit presents a major threat to all the sectors represented today in terms of the risk to EU funding for community projects and university research, educational opportunities in the EU and the dilution of workers’ rights.

“This is obviously causing a great deal of concern so I welcome the fact that more and more sectors are making their voices heard. The DUP are clearly on the wrong side of the argument."

Mid Ulster MLA O'Neill accused the DUP of "setting their face against the wishes and best interests of the vast majority of citizens by continuing to push for a hard Brexit and opposing the withdrawal agreement".

“That agreement is not perfect and neither is the backstop contained within it. However, it is the least worst option and remains our best insurance policy against the worst excesses of Brexit on the island of Ireland," she said.

“But while the DUP still refuse to heed the concerns of citizens, Sinn Fein will continue to stand with all other pro-Remain parties and those sections of society who advocate for citizens' rights, our economic interests and the protection of our agreements.

“Whatever transpires over the coming weeks, the Backstop remains the bottom line.”

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