Belfast Telegraph

No need to return to border posts of the past after Brexit- says Foster following Raab meeting

DUP leader Arlene Foster has said their is no need to return to the "border posts of the past" when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Mrs Foster made the comments after meeting with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab during his visit to Northern Ireland on Friday.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, south Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford and DUP MEP Diane Dodds also attending the meeting.

Mrs Foster said: “This was a useful discussion where we emphasised that the United Kingdom must leave the European Union together. 

"Northern Ireland must not be carved into an arrangement which undermines the constitutional or economic integrity of the United Kingdom. 

"To do anything else will be to run a coach and horses through the historic agreements in which the principle of consent is enshrined.

"We want to see a sensible exit from the EU which works for Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom but also our nearest neighbours in the Republic of Ireland. There is no need for a return to the border posts of the past. 

"Those who suggest such are recklessly scaremongering and only giving succor to people with violent intent.”

In a statement, Mr Raab said: “I valued the opportunity to see the border first-hand, and hear from local businesses and the port authorities at Larne. We will not accept any Brexit proposals that threaten the economic or constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.

"The deal we strike with the EU must avoid a hard border and work for all parts of the the community in Northern Ireland.”

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (right) and deputy leader Michelle O'Neill speaking to the media in the Great Hall at Stormont, Belfast, following a meeting with Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab. Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Sinn Fein president Mary-Lou McDonald said she had a direct meeting with Mr Raab during which she warned him not to act "recklessly".

The party's northern leader and vice president Michelle O'Neill was also in the delegation that met with Mr Raab.

"We had what I would describe as a very direct meeting with Dominic Raab. We have again set out for him in the plainest of terms the necessity for a backstop that protects the basic economic, social and political well being of the island of Ireland," Ms McDonald said.

"We have reminded him that he and his government last December signed up to that, understood that the north of Ireland is a particular scenario with a need for a bespoke and particular solution.

"We have told him that he and his government are acting in bad faith, that they have stepped back from the commitments that they made to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts, to ensure no hardening of the border on our island and to ensure no loss of rights for our citizens.

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Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann and MLA Steve Aiken in the Great Hall of Parliament Buildings, Stormont, Belfast following a meeting between Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and the regions political parties. Rebecca Black/PA Wire

UUP leader Robin Swann said he wished Mr Raab had spent longer in Northern Ireland to listen to different voices.

“Northern Ireland will be uniquely impacted by Brexit as it will be the only part of the United Kingdom with a land border with the EU once the UK leaves in March 2019," he said.

“As we do not have an Executive in place to ensure that Northern Ireland’s case is made in the Brexit negotiations, it is all the more important that senior figures such as Dominic Raab should come here and meet with local businesses and political parties to hear first hand about the main concerns and issues as to how we will be affected.”

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