Belfast Telegraph

Bradley ignoring the public's fears in Brexit 'pantomine': Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill
Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill has told the Secretary of State the Government is still not listening to the fears of Northern Irish people over the Brexit "pantomime".

Speaking after a phone conversation with Karen Bradley, Mrs O'Neill said: "I had a frank discussion with the British Secretary of State.

"I told her that her Government is clearly still not listening to fears of the public, who are aghast at the pantomime currently playing out in the Westminster parliament.

"With each passing day, our business community, our farmers and our community and voluntary sector are growing more concerned at where this shambles will ultimately end up."

Ms O'Neill said those people would "pay the price" if a no-deal Brexit occurred. "Unfortunately, that is where we are likely to end up if Karen Bradley's Government pursues a solution by attempting to placate the DUP and the hard Brexiteers," she added.

"Those people are clearly not concerned about the impact of their reckless actions on our economy and our communities."

The Sinn Fein deputy leader said it was crucial "now more than ever" that the Irish Government and Brussels stood firm in protecting the backstop.

Meanwhile, party president Mary Lou McDonald said the Irish Government must push for a referendum on unity in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

She said that "Irish rights and interests" must be protected and that there could not be a return to a hard border. "A no-deal Brexit would have a catastrophic impact on the island of Ireland," Mrs McDonald stressed.

"The backstop remains the only guarantee that there will be no hard border and that the interests of citizens in the North, the majority of whom voted against Brexit, will be protected.

"It must be defended and it cannot be watered down under any circumstance."

Ms McDonald said she would tell Prime Minister Theresa May today that "the constitutional future of the North should be put to the people in a referendum on Irish unity".

She continued: "If the people of the North are to have their futures shattered by the British establishment, then the people of the North must have their say.

"It is now time for the Government here to articulate that they too would like to see a referendum being held in the event of a no-deal scenario.

"If Westminster insists on driving toward a no-deal crash, then a referendum on Irish unity, as provided for in the Good Friday Agreement, must be called as the entirely rational response, which would provide a pathway for the North to retain membership of the European Union."

Ms McDonald said that if "the Brits insist on Brexit", it is a matter for them. But any deal needs to "recognise, understand and protect the people of this island, our economy and our peace process".

She added: "I appreciate the Taoiseach and Tanaiste don't want to be seen as part of the Government who impose a hard border on the island.

"Brexit is as much an issue for those in Derry or Fermanagh as those in Dublin or Cork."

Belfast Telegraph


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