Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill tells May: DUP don't speak for majority in NI

By Suzanne Breen

Sinn Fein has told the Prime Minister that the DUP don't speak for the majority of people in Northern Ireland.

The party's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill said that in a telephone call with Theresa May yesterday, she had stressed that most people here were against Brexit.

"I made it clear to the British Prime Minister that the DUP do not speak for the majority of the people of the North. The democratically expressed will of the people of the North is to remain in the EU," Ms O'Neill said.

"I made the case for designated special status within the EU, in the customs union and the single market. 

"That is the only guarantee of stability and certainty that will deliver the full protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts - including Irish citizenship and therefore the benefits of EU citizenship."

Speaking in the Dail, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams urged Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to "stand firm against the narrow interests of the DUP and the English Tories".

The party is holding a rally in support of special status for Northern Ireland in west Belfast tonight.

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann said the Irish government may be "feeling emboldened" as it stood "in the warm glow of European-wide publicity" but it would be "dropped like a stone" by EU leaders "when the money's right". He added: "We also need to put this myth to bed being peddled by Dublin and others that they are standing up for the Belfast Agreement by taking the position that they do.

"They are not, and instead they stand in direct opposition to the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent. It's time to cut the rhetoric and start talking. If we don't get a good deal, the Republic of Ireland and its farmers have the most to lose."  

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry warned we were sitting at a crossroads. He said: "Over coming days, political parties and civil society have the opportunity to land a Brexit deal in a way which Northern Ireland can be a bridge to both the markets in Britain and the EU, and have the best of both worlds.

"If we don't, we will give in to insular, ideologically-driven politics and see our economy stagnating, with our region becoming a peripheral backwater."

Green Party Leader Steven Agnew said the Brexit talks have been hugely embarrassing for both the DUP and Mrs May. He added: "The DUP has jumped to the assumption that regulatory alignment with the Republic means regulatory divergence from Britain.

"The ideal solution would be regulatory alignment across both islands so that we are all working on a common framework that allows us to trade into each other's markets.

"Such a solution would be in line with the will of the majority of people in Northern Ireland who voted to remain in the single market."

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