Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein under fire over ‘shameless’ Berlin Wall claim

DUP MP Gregory Campbell
DUP MP Gregory Campbell
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

The DUP's Gregory Campbell has accused Sinn Fein of "shamelessly exploiting" border communities after Mary Lou McDonald said the return of a hard border would be like "putting the Berlin Wall back up".

The Sinn Fein leader made the comment following a phone call with the Prime Minister yesterday discussing Brexit.

Ms McDonald said she had "quite a detailed conversation" with Theresa May yesterday. "We've put it to the Prime Minister that at the beginning of this Brexit debacle commitments were given to protect the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts to prevent any hardening of the border and to ensure the protection of citizens' rights.

"She didn't give us any assurances as to how this would be achieved in the absence of any agreement.

"I think it's important we understand that Irish prosperity, in addition to being linked to the single market, is also linked to the all-island economy. It's not just about the economy and trade, its not a technical dilemma - it's a political question and the idea of reinstating the border on the island of Ireland is almost like suggesting we rebuild the Berlin Wall.

But DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the comparison was "scandalous and careless exploitation of genuine fears amongst good border communities".

"The only people building walls at the border have been Sinn Fein amateur dramatics activists with fake checkpoints and trench coats," he added.

"Jean-Claude Juncker, Michel Barnier, Angela Merkel and Leo Varadkar have recognised that even in a no-deal exit, there will be no one building a hard border.

"The Sinn Fein leadership is shamelessly exploiting border communities for their own electoral advantage and making claims which bear no relation to the facts. Mary Lou McDonald should withdraw her claim that the border post-Brexit will be akin to the Berlin Wall."

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: "Sinn Fein will take no lectures from Gregory Campbell, whose party are driving our economy over a cliff edge and threatening our peace agreements.

"They continue to ignore the views of businesses, farmers and the majority of people in the North who voted to remain within the EU.

"The DUP are happy to accept a border in the Irish Sea when it comes to rights enjoyed by citizens in Britain, as they continue their disgraceful denial of language rights, marriage rights, women's rights and the right to a coroner's inquest.

"The only way to avoid a crash-out Brexit and a hard border in Ireland is through the withdrawal agreement and the backstop contained within it."

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