Belfast Telegraph

DUP and UUP 'disappointed' Barnier's Northern Ireland visit announced by Sinn Fein MP

DUP MEP Diane Dodds and Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson have said they are "disappointed" that a visit by the EU's Chief Brexit Negotiator Michel Barnier to Northern Ireland was announced by Sinn Fein MP Elisha McCallion.

In a joint statement the pair said that Mr Barnier must hear views from across Northern Ireland when he visits next week.

Foyle MP Elisha McCallion announced on Wednesday that Mr Barnier would be visiting Londonderry as part of his trip.

He will also visit Newry and Dungannon.

Michel Barnier is a former French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs.

In July 2016 he was announced as the European Commission's chief negotiator with the United Kingdom over leaving the European Union.

“It is a welcome development to hear that Michel Barnier will visit Northern Ireland next week.  As MEPs we have always been gladdened by the support for Northern Ireland within the EU institutions," the MEP's joint statement said.

"However we are disappointed that, whether by accident or design, the European Commission has allowed the visit of Michel Barnier to be announced to the public by a Sinn Fein MP.

"The challenge for Mr Barnier now will be to demonstrate that he will hear views from right across Northern Ireland. Whilst visits to Londonderry, Newry and Dungannon will be useful, there are companies and representatives from right across Northern Ireland with views that should be heard in this process.

Mrs Dodds and Mr Nicholson called for people across Northern Ireland to have their say on Brexit.

Northern Ireland has unique challenges and opportunities arising from Brexit. We have consistently said that the voices of all communities should be heard.  Only then will this be a worthwhile and productive visit by the EU’s chief negotiator and not a political stunt,” the statement ended.

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