Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Campbell accuses Sinn Fein of 'exploiting border communities' after McDonald's Berlin Wall comparison

Gregory Campbell hit out at the Sinn Fein leader's comments. (Niall Carson/PA)
Gregory Campbell hit out at the Sinn Fein leader's comments. (Niall Carson/PA)
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

The DUP's Gregory Campbell has accused Sinn Fein of "shamelessly exploiting" border communities after Mary Lou McDonald said the return of a hard border would be "akin to putting the Berlin Wall back up".

The Sinn Fein leader made the comment following a phone call with Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday discussing Brexit.

"This afternoon we spoke to the British Prime Minister Theresa May and we reiterated our steadfast opposition to a return to a hard border in Ireland," she said.

"Such a scenario would be akin to putting the Berlin Wall back up."

In response, DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the comparison was "scandalous and careless exploitation of genuine fears amongst good border communities".

"The only people building walls at the border have been Sinn Fein amateur dramatics activists with fake checkpoints and trench coats," he added.

"Jean-Claude Juncker, Michel Barnier, Angela Merkel and Leo Varadkar have all recognised that even in a ‘no deal’ exit, there will be no one building a hard border.

"The Sinn Fein leadership is shamelessly exploiting border communities for their own electoral advantage and making claims which bear no relation to the facts. Mary Lou McDonald should withdraw her claim that the border post Brexit will be akin to the Berlin Wall.

"Whilst Sinn Fein speak much about border communities they do nothing at Westminster for those communities in return for the Parliamentary allowances they happily accept. Their real priorities lie exposed.”

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: “Sinn Fein will take no lectures from Gregory Campbell who’s party are driving our economy over a cliff edge and threatening our peace agreements. 

“They continue to ignore the views of businesses, farmers and a majority of people in the north who voted to remain within the EU.

“The DUP are happy to accept a border in the Irish Sea when it comes to rights enjoyed by citizens in Britain, as they continue their disgraceful denial of language rights, marriage rights, women’s rights and the right to a coroner’s inquest.

“The only way to avoid a crash out Brexit and a hard border in Ireland is through the Withdrawal Agreement and the ‘backstop’ contained within it.”

The subject of the Irish border has been a key sticking point in Brexit negotiations ever since the referendum in June 2016, with the controversial backstop later designed to prevent the return of a hard border.

Agreed between the EU and the UK in December 2017, the backstop would see UK remain in the EU customs union and Northern Ireland aligned to large parts of the single market, if no formal deal can be reached on trade and security arrangements.

Last weekend, protests were held at various crossing points along the border by Border Communities Against Brexit, an anti-Brexit campaign group.

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