Belfast Telegraph

Time-limited backstop not an option: Sinn Fein

Challenge: Mary Lou McDonald
Challenge: Mary Lou McDonald

By Aoife Moore

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald says a time-limited backstop in regards to a hard border in Ireland would be null-and-void.

The notion of such a backstop was proposed for trade between the UK and EU after Brexit, with an "expected" end date of 2021.

It would see the UK match EU trade tariffs temporarily in order to avoid a hard border when the UK leaves the European Union.

Ms McDonald echoed previous sentiments by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that a time-limited backstop isn't acceptable. "That is not an option - one of the real tests for the backstop is that it is not temporary," she said.

"The challenges presented to Ireland by Brexit are not temporary or fleeting, the protections afforded to this island must be robust and enduring. Anything that is time-limited does not represent the backstop that we need.

"Just bear in mind that when the backstop was first landed on, the Taoiseach assured people that Ireland had been protected, it was watertight, that it would ensure that people's rights would be protected in an enduring way.

"Time limits are not acceptable, in fact I would render any arrangement null-and-void."

Speaking before the party's meeting yesterday with the Taoiseach and the Tanaiste Simon Coveney, Ms McDonald said they would discuss Brexit and the current power-sharing impasse at Stormont.

She said: "At the end of the last Dail session, we were told there would be renewed efforts at talks to re-establish the Assembly.

"It's now October, there is no process, there is only stalling and excuses, people in the North are anxious to have their rights respected and legislated for.

"The DUP is in hiding at Westminster, their agreement with the Tories means that they are not willing, nor have been pressured to do the things necessary, to ensure we have government again in the North."

Speaking in the Dail ahead of his meeting with Sinn Fein, Mr Coveney said: "There is no firm agreed position on the Irish backstop from the two negotiating teams that's agreed yet anyway."

He continued that the vast majority of text of the withdrawal treaty had been agreed, but that the last 10-15% was proving difficult and that it mostly involved Ireland.

Mr Coveney added: "The DUP are a very important voice in Northern Ireland but they do not represent a majority there."

He said that while the DUP had a special relationship with the British Government, the Irish Government had a relationship with all political parties in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph


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