Belfast Telegraph

Claim Sinn Fein would block Stormont for a generation over Brexit 'rubbish,' says party

By Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein has rubbished a claim party members threatened "no Stormont for a generation" if border controls were put in place after the UK's departure from the EU.

The claims were put to the Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd on the BBC Stephen Nolan radio show on Friday morning who said he was "not familiar with the claim".

Presenter Stephen Nolan said sources had told his show that Sinn Fein had indicated to the British government that if there was an advance toward the notion of a hard border then there will "be no Stormont for a generation".

A Sinn Fein statement to the Belfast Telegraph said: "This claim is rubbish. Sinn Fein leader in the north, Michelle O'Neill, has regularly been on the record stating that Sinn Fein will enter the Executive when the DUP stop the denial of rights and we see the implementation of outstanding agreements."

Speaking to Stephen Nolan, Mr O'Dowd said Brexit had been a backdrop to the issues hampering the restoration of the institutions.

He said: "We are trying to work our way through the domestic political difficulties we have."

However, Mr O'Dowd did not rule out Sinn Fein refusing to enter an Executive if border controls were implemented.

"We are doing everything in our power to make sure that does not happen," he said when asked if they would stop Sinn Fein forming an Executive with the other parties.

He said if border controls were put in place it would be "a game changer for politics on the island of Ireland".

"A return to physical controls on the border is a physical manifestation of political failure," he added.

When people say things are inevitable, they need to look through things with a different scope.

Mr O'Dowd also suggested that Northern Ireland and its border concerns were irrelevant to the negotiations compared to the big business and scale of the politics involved.

He also said his party and the DUP had not spoken on Brexit issues for the past six months.

"I am not boasting about that and I don't think it's democratic in any way, but this is a different scale. The solution is we remain in the customs union which will protect the rights and entitlements of our communities and businesses."

He added: "If the British establishment want to do a deal with the EU 27 they will throw the DUP and if needs be Theresa May under a big red London bus and move on without them.

"This is international politics, it is high stake politics, you are dealing now with multi-national cooperations who are dealing in billions of pounds of international trade and none of those organisations is to going to allow the DUP or anyone else stand in their way if they decide to make a move in one direction or the other.

"This game is being played on a scale we have never witnessed before in our local domestic politics.

"You are in a different league now and you have to have your wits about you and you have entered a game and if you are not up to it you will get hurt very quickly.

"The British government will do what suits them. The DUP may believe they have leverage, but they are dealing in a league they have never ever played in before."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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