Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland should be given special Brexit status, says leader of Fianna Fail

By Suzanne Breen

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has lambasted the British government for its handling of Brexit and called for Northern Ireland to become a special economic zone.

Speaking in Co Donegal last night, Mr Martin said this would ensure Northern Ireland got the "best of both worlds" with access to both the UK and EU markets.

Special treatment would give it a competitive edge "in certain circumstances".

Addressing the MacGill summer school in Glenties, Mr Martin also accused Leo Varadkar's government of helping to "dramatise" the debate surrounding the backstop arrangement.

The Fianna Fail leader warned that Brexit was at a moment of "undeniable crisis".

He said: "Today's Tory Party is beyond satire and has long ceased to be amusing,

"It has put to rest any lingering sense of the seriousness of the self-regarding and childishly erudite class of public figure which emerges from many of their most prominent schools."

The moment of truth on Brexit and Northern Ireland has been reached, he said.

"The choices facing us are starker than ever, the room for manoeuvre is becoming narrower by the day - there is no more time for delay," he added.

Mr Martin expressed hope that Thursday's meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference - the first in 11 years - would mark some "major initiative" to restore Northern Ireland's institutions.

"Until this happens, whatever is the Brexit outcome will lack essential democratic legitimacy," he said.

"I don't want to blame the violence of recent weeks on the Brexit debate, but there is no doubt that the political vacuum in Northern Ireland is creating a dangerous climate."

He hit out at former Tory leader David Cameron for his decision to hold the EU referendum, describing it as one of the most "disastrous failures of leadership in a modern democracy".

Belfast Telegraph

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