'No one is going to build hard border in Ireland'- claims DUP's Foster after Coveney meeting
Arlene Foster has claimed "no one is going to build a hard border" in Ireland after Brexit.
The DUP leader made the comments following a meeting with Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney at Stormont on Thursday.
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Mrs Foster said it was important for the Irish government to gain a "better understanding of unionism".
"We want to see a sensible exit from the European Union which works for the Republic of Ireland as well as Northern Ireland," she said.
"The Withdrawal Agreement is not a fair deal and we can not support it.
"It should be no more acceptable to build a new east-west border than it is to build a new north-south border.
"The backstop is not needed. No one is going to build a hard border.
"We will work with the Government to reach a better deal for the United Kingdom but this will require more pragmatism from the European Union."
The former first minister said the UK leaving the EU without a deal was "not our favoured outcome" but urged the Irish government to have a change of heart on its Brexit stance.
"I trust the Irish government will reflect on our principled objections to the Withdrawal Agreement and recognise that there is a better way which can work for both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom," she added.
Sinn Fein Vice President Michelle O'Neill urged the Irish government to "stand firm" to safeguard Ireland's interests.
"A no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for our economy and society," she said.
“It would see us crashing out of the EU with no terms of departure, over an economic cliff-edge with supply shortages and many businesses unable to trade, job losses, possible recession, no access to the EU single market and a physical hard border being put in place in Ireland."
Ms O'Neill, speaking after meeting Mr Coveney, said the "chaos engulfing Westminster" cannot be allowed to "spill over into Ireland"
"The way to do that is to remain firm, along with the EU 27, in defending the backstop as our only insurance policy against a hard border in Ireland," she said.
“The DUP will continue to pursue their reckless Brexit agenda, bizarrely working against the interests of their own electorate, of wider society and all the people of this island.
“However, the Withdrawal Agreement and the Backstop cannot, and will not, be rewritten, renegotiated or vetoed.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital