Belfast Telegraph

Green Party veteran warns Agnew over 'dangers' of pro-Brexit alliance with SF

By Suzanne Breen and Steven Alexander

Green leader Steven Agnew has been given authority by his party's executive to continue discussions with other politicians about forming an anti-Brexit election pact.

Mr Agnew is holding talks with Sinn Fein today and plans to meet with Alliance and the UUP later this week. He has already held discussions with the SDLP.

However, the Green Party's first ever MLA, Brian Wilson, has warned that entering an electoral pact with republicans risks damaging its reputation.

He told the News Letter that an anti-Brexit pact might be seen as little more than a nationalist coalition, that would alienate unionist Green voters.

However, his former party has given the go-ahead to further discussions about forming an alliance with others who want the UK to remain in the EU. A spokeswoman last night said that its executive had agreed on the matter after it met on Saturday.

"One agenda item concerned our involvement in an anti-Brexit pact with other parties during the forthcoming Westminster election," she said. "Our executive agreed that we continue to explore options in the coming days. This means that we will seek to meet with other parties early next week to discuss matters." 

Mr Wilson said: "In principle, I think the idea of getting an anti-Brexit coalition is a good idea. But I don't see how it's practical within the Northern Ireland context, given the whole political structure and the sectarian nature of Northern Ireland politics."

Meanwhile, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has expressed support for his own party, Sinn Fein and the Greens withdrawing from the race in East Belfast.

Doing so would give Alliance leader Naomi Long a clear run at winning back the Westminster seat taken from her in 2015 by the DUP's Gavin Robinson - who himself benefited from an election pact that meant no UUP candidate stood.

Mr Robinson won by 2,597 votes in 2015, while the total of the SDLP, Sinn Fein and Green votes came to 2,008.

However, Mrs Long has said she had no interest in pacts.

A deal between pro-Remain parties could help Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew in Fermanagh and South Tyrone and the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell in South Belfast. But the idea has been criticised by Ann Travers, whose sister was murdered by the IRA. She said she was "disgusted that both the SDLP and Greens are considering an electoral pact with Sinn Fein".

"How they can even dream of doing a deal with a political party that still justifies IRA murders and supports those murderers. It's beyond any comprehension," she wrote on Facebook.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson has been reminding her Twitter followers of her pro-EU position. She posed in a 'No to Brexit' T-shirt alongside SF deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. On the back it reads: "Brexit, you can stick it where the sun don't shine."

The quote refers to a speech Ms Anderson gave in the European Parliament in March, in which she said Theresa May can stick the Irish border "where the sun don't shine".

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph