Sinn Féin taking special status case to heart of Europe - O'Neill
Sinn Féin will take the case for the whole of Ireland to remain in the EU to the heart of Europe this week, the party's leader in the North Michelle O'Neill has said.
The Mid-Ulster MLA was speaking as she and Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald prepare to undertake a two-day visit to Strasbourg.
Michelle O'Neill said: "Led by our all-Ireland team of MEPs, Sinn Féin has been engaging across Europe ever since the Brexit vote took place.
"We have been hugely successful in ensuring the other member states are fully aware of the damage which Brexit will have on Ireland. Unlike Theresa May, they have been prepared to listen to our case and have made Ireland one of their top three priorities in the upcoming Brexit negotiations with the British Government.
"Now that Article 50 has been triggered and the process of Britain's withdrawal formally begun, we are stepping up our campaign for designated special status that would enable the whole of Ireland to remain within the EU.
"I had a constructive discussion with the EU's Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier in Dublin on Thursday and will meet with a wide range of other key stakeholders over the coming two days.
"Special status is the only way to prevent an EU frontier across Ireland. It is the only way to avoid the catastrophic impact that Brexit will have on commerce and communities across our island. It is the only way to give effect to the clear majority in the North who democratically voted to Remain.
"Theresa May and her allies in the DUP may have ruled it out but, thankfully, it won't be their decision to make. It will be the other member states who decide the terms of the Brexit deal, not the Westminster government.
"The other 27 EU states are the real decision-makers. They have shown themselves to be flexible in the past and they are extremely conscious of their responsibilities to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement which is inextricably linked to European Union membership. Sinn Féin will be firmly making the case that the only way to do that is through designated special status."