Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Foster pledges to take unionist concerns to the top of US politics

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster

By Staff Reporter

Arlene Foster has promised to tell influential US decision-makers that there is more to politics in Northern Ireland "than just another tired call for a divisive border poll".

Mrs Foster, who is currently on a trip to Washington DC, was due to meet Richie Neal, the chairman of the House of Representatives' Ways and Means Committee, yesterday.

Today, she will attend the Speaker's Lunch before an engagement at the White House.

Speaking from Washington, Mrs Foster said: "It is vital that Northern Ireland's unionist voice is heard in Washington.

"There is a great deal of focus on Northern Ireland currently as we move towards the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union. I will be briefing people about how we are striving for a sensible deal which works for every part of the United Kingdom, as well as our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland.

"It is important that Dublin and Brussels are in deal-making mode."

As politicians from Ireland head to Washington for the annual events linked to St Patrick's Day, Mrs Foster said it should have been a week "where the voice of a functioning Northern Ireland Executive (is) heard".

She added: "Whilst Sinn Fein focus on a narrow agenda in Northern Ireland, I will be relaying the frustration amongst people of all backgrounds about a lack of devolution.

"It is important that decision-makers within the United States hear more than just another tired call for a divisive border poll."

As part of his annual St Patrick's Day visit, the Taoiseach attended a lunch at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington DC.

Leo Varadkar also said people who advocated for Brexit had been "chasing unicorns" for a "very long time".

"As we head into the next few weeks, it should be blatantly obvious that unicorns only exist in fairy tales," he told reporters at the event.

"I would say to people who advocated Brexit, is this really what they wanted? Protectionism, borders, tariffs, restrictions on trade? Is this really what Brexit was all about?

"And for those who voted against the withdrawal agreement on the basis that they feared that Northern Ireland would be treated differently as a result of the backstop, it must be evident to them now that it's the UK Government's intention to treat Northern Ireland differently."

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