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Sinn Fein leaders to travel to Brussels for Brexit talks

Delegation to meet Michel Barnier on Monday

Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald is to lead a delegation of her party to meet with EU Commission Brexit talks negotiator Michel Barnier.

It comes after the EU published a draft legal text - proposing to effectively keep Northern Ireland in the customs union - in the event of the two sides failing to agree on a free-trade deal or technological solutions to the border in Ireland.

Reacting Theresa May said no Prime Minister could ever agree to the EU's draft proposals, saying they threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the idea would be "economically catastrophic" and "constitutionally unacceptable".

EU president Donald Tusk has told Theresa May to come up with a "better idea". The Prime Minister is set to outline her proposals for the UK's future relationship with the EU on Friday. 

A Sinn Fein delegation including the party's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill and MEPs Martina Anderson Matt Carthy will travel to Brussels on Monday to meet Mr Barnier.

“The publication of the EU Draft Treaty on Brexit has exposed the British Government’s approach to Ireland, our agreements, our economy and the rights of all our citizens," the Sinn Fein leader said.

"The people in the north voted to remain, the Tory Brexiteers and their partners in the DUP have no mandate to speak for the north on Brexit.

“Sinn Fein has consistently called for the north to be designated special status. This is the view was supported by the Dail and is now supported by the EU."

Mrs McDonald accused Prime Minister May of bad faith over the proposed Brexit deal.

“In the lead up to the Brexit debate the impact on Ireland was never considered. Since the referendum the Tory government has repeated their rhetoric of no hard border across Ireland and failed to bring forward a workable solution to how this would be achieved," she said.

“Prime Minister May agreed principles to avoid a hard border in December. Yesterday she rejected her own deal. It is clear that the British Government approach to Brexit, once thought of as disorganised has been exposed as destructive.”

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