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Gerry Adams in US visit to highlight fears over hard border

By Staff Reporter

The Conservative Government is "ill-prepared for Brexit" and has little concern for the economic impact of a hard border in Ireland, the Sinn Fein president will tell US politicians this week.

Gerry Adams left for Washington yesterday for several days of meetings with political leaders - as did Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

Speaking ahead of the trip, Mr Brokenshire said: "Regrettably my visit takes place against a backdrop of political stalemate in Northern Ireland, but this is a timely opportunity to brief members of the US administration, who throughout history have done so much to support our efforts in moving forward the political process on the current situation.

"I also want to reassure them that the UK Government is determined to see devolved, power-sharing government restored."

Mr Adams will attend a memorial Mass in Washington for Martin McGuinness, and will meet the Congressional Friends of Ireland group and State Department to update them on the recent Stormont negotiations and the situation arising from Brexit.

Mr Adams said: "My meetings this week will allow me the opportunity to update Irish America, the State Department and Capitol Hill on recent developments in the political process, the failure to reach agreement at the start of this month and the widely held concerns across the island about the damaging consequences of Brexit.

"These have been heightened in recent days following a week of confusing Brexit negotiations between the EU and the British Government which suggest that the Tories are ill-prepared for Brexit, have no clear plan and have little concern about the impact of a hard economic border on the island of Ireland.

"I will also tell Irish America and Congressional leaders that Sinn Fein is totally committed to the restoration of the political institutions, but that this can only be achieved on the basis of equality and respect, and the implementation of outstanding commitments arising from the Good Friday and subsequent agreements."

Meanwhile, work will begin on preparing the ground for a post-Brexit trade deal with the US when the International Trade Secretary flies into Washington.

Liam Fox will meet trade representative Robert Lighthizer for two days of talks at the first UK-US trade and investment working group.

EU rules mean the UK cannot sign a deal until after it has quit the bloc, but the discussions will pave the way for a future potential free trade deal.

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