Belfast Telegraph

DUP's foster vows to get better Brexit deal amid ongoing uncertainty in Christmas message

DUP leader Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster

DUP leader Arlene Foster, has pledged to those concerned about the mounting uncertainty around Brexit, her party will work to get a better deal and "ensure the backstop is defeated".

The party has found itself as a major player as Prime Minister Theresa May attempts to broker a deal on leaving the EU which crucially needs the support of parliament.

Many influential business organisations in Northern Ireland have welcomed the withdrawal agreement. However it has been roundly rejected by a huge number of MPs as damaging to the United Kingdom.

Arlene Foster said she recognised the "incredible uncertainty" 2018 had experienced both globally and at home.

"Where the party has been involved, we have sought to work for sensible solutions," she said. 

"On Brexit in particular, I know some are very concerned at the uncertainty. I appreciate those concerns are grounded in a love to see their sectors succeed.  For our part, we want a solution which will work for Northern Ireland but not undermine the economic or constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom. 

"We will work resolutely in the coming weeks to get a better deal and ensure the backstop is defeated."

The DUP has a confidence and supply deal with the Conservatives which sees it support the minority government in passing legislation. The relationship between the two parties has been strained over the Brexit developments between the UK and EU.

As part of the deal with the Tories more money was secured for health workers in Northern Ireland, which saw a pay rise approved this week. There were also protections for Armed forces personnel in the agreement, which Arlene Foster said she was "glad" the DUP has sought to secure.

"In all the excitement and wonder which this time of year can bring into homes, we should also take time to thank those working both at home and abroad, who will not be able to spend time with their families," she said.

"I commend those serving in the Armed Forces especially, who will be far from family but doing so to protect our United Kingdom. I am glad the DUP has stood up for our service personnel and veterans to ensure they are properly rewarded and cared for.

"We should also be grateful to our frontline workers and emergency services who will keep us safe and provide vital services in our hospitals over Christmas.  Each year, they sacrifice spending time with their family so others can receive the care and support they need. I am very proud that our Confidence and Supply Agreement has been able to deliver a much-needed funding boost for our frontline services."

In her Christmas message the MLA said she always looked forward to Christmas day to enjoy some quiet time with the family and the celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

"In a world where technology is taking more and more of our time and face-to-face interaction seems to take second place, I look forward to some old fashioned board games with family where the phones are placed out of reach for a while," she added.

Whilst Christmas is a time of celebration and joy, it is also a time of sadness for those who will have an empty chair on Christmas Day. We should also consider our elderly neighbours, who aren’t able to be out and out about in the way they once could.  Loneliness can be a terrible experience for our older people.  A quick phone call or a short visit can lift their spirits and give that little bit of encouragement."

Her message concluded: "Against the backdrop of so much uncertainty, the Christmas message remains. This time of year encourages us to study the attributes of Christ’s life where He taught us by example.

"From my family in Fermanagh, I wish you a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year."

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