Belfast Telegraph

Foster and O'Neill hold meetings with Trade Secretary Fox in Belfast

The UK's International Trade Secretary Liam Fox has met separately with leaders from Sinn Fein and the DUP during a visit to Northern Ireland.

Following her meeting on Friday with Secretary Fox, Sinn Fein's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill said she had made it clear the Tory Brexit agenda would have "disastrous consequences" for the Good Friday Agreement.

"In [Friday's] meeting we told Liam Fox it is clear that he and his fellow Brexiteers in the Tory cabinet simply regard the north and its people as collateral damage in the Brexit process," she said.

"It is clear the Tories are floundering over Brexit as their approach to these negotiations is being rejected by the EU. In fact the only people now supporting the Tories on Brexit appear to be the DUP, regardless of the dire consequences for the people of the north."

Mrs O'Neill also reiterated Sinn Fein's position that Northern Ireland should be granted special status within the EU.

DUP leader Arlene Foster was accompanied by former Economy Minister Simon Hamilton in her meeting with Mr Fox.

Focusing on trade issues, Mrs Foster said her party "greatly welcome Dr Fox's visit and keen interest in Northern Ireland" and invited the Board of Trade to meet in Northern Ireland.

The Board of Trade is a British government department first established in the early 17th century that was historically important in regulating domestic and international commerce. It was reconvened this month by Liam Fox "to help boost trade, attract inward investors and ensure the benefits of free trade are spread equally across the country".

"If we want to move our economy forward then not only do we have to build on our phenomenal success in attracting inward investment but we equally have to work with our firms to increase their sales outside of Northern Ireland," said the DUP leader.

"We are keen that companies continue to work with Invest NI but we also want them to work with Dr Fox's Department and their team around the world. The Department of International Trade have a huge footprint across the globe and can offer particularly financial and export credit assistance to companies as they trade globally."

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