Belfast Telegraph

'Sinn Fein are deliberately misleading people about the DUP's position,' says DUP's Diane Dodds

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has said "Sinn Fein are deliberately misleading people about the DUP's position" in relation to negotiations.

The DUP member was responding to Sinn Finn leader Michelle O'Neill's comments that the next 48 hours are crucial for Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations.

Ms Dodds stated: "The DUP has been absolutely clear and consistent. We do not wish to see a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

"In pursuance of that objective however it is completely unacceptable to place such a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

"What is required from everyone in this process is a positive attitude and a determination to achieve an outcome that is acceptable to all sides. Unfortunately we have some who appear to revel in the prospect of failure.

"This is not the DUP's position and we will continue to ensure the constitutional and economic integrity of the UK is maintained and that we do not see a return to the borders of the past with the Republic of Ireland."

The DUP MEP added: "Sinn Fein deliberately mislead people about the DUP's position. Of course Sinn Fein know well that the hard border of the past existed to stop semtex and not powdered milk."

EU leaders said there is a deadline of Sunday to find a solution after the DUP scuppered a proposed deal at the beginning of the week.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said talks on the border could extend into the new year, while Nigel Dodds said negotiations would continue for as long as was necessary. It is understood a DUP delegation met Conservative officials on Thursday.

Stormont Sinn Fein leader Michelle O'Neill said the DUP did not represent the majority view in Northern Ireland, where 56% voted Remain in last year's referendum.

Mrs O'Neill was speaking as work continues to craft a border deal that will satisfy the EU, UK, Dublin and the DUP.

"They are consistently turning their face towards a hard border," she said in Belfast.

"I have made that very clear to Theresa May."

Her comments came as a Sinn Fein sponsored opinion poll suggested a clear majority of people in the region - 58% - are in favour of Northern Ireland retaining membership of the single market and customs union.

The Lucidtalk poll, commissioned by the European United Left - Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament, also suggested that, in the event of a "no deal" hard Brexit, more people in Northern Ireland would prefer to join a united Ireland to maintain EU membership than stay in a UK outside the European Union (48% to 45%).

Mrs O'Neill said the region was facing a crucial "48 hours" and called on the Irish government to stand up for everyone on the island.

She said there could be no "roll back" on what was on the table on Monday, insisting protections to ensure a soft border should even be made stronger.

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