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Permanent solution to avoid hard border required – O’Neill

7 June, 2018 - by Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin Deputy Leader Michelle O’Neill has said today time is of the essence as we approach the European Council meeting later this month.

And the Mid Ulster MLA said that Sinn Féin’s focus and the focus of the Irish government must be on defending the national interest in the face of a Tory cabinet which is negotiating with itself.

Michelle O’Neill said:

“I alongside the leaders of the other Assembly parties, with the exception of the DUP who don’t speak for the majority of people in the North, presented a joint statement in recent weeks where we made clear that;

‘We cannot withstand exclusion from the single market or customs union;

‘That the protection of the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts, including North/South and East/West co-operation is critical to maintaining relationships within, and between these islands;

‘That the backstop agreed by both the British Government and the EU27 is the bottom line in order to safeguard our political and economic stability now and for the future.’

“The Protocol on Ireland where Theresa May agreed that a backstop solution for the border will form part of the legal text of the Withdrawal Agreement, and that this backstop would apply, unless and until, another solution is found is what’s agreed with the EU at this time.

“The EU negotiators will now assess this latest British Government position against that.  However it talks only of a ‘temporary' and ‘time limited’ backstop to avoid a hard border which falls short of the agreed protocol.

“Let’s be clear a back stop with a time limit is by definition not a backstop. 

“What we need is a permanent solution to avoid a hard border and nothing less will do.

“So while Theresa May negotiates with her own cabinet, our focus and that of the Irish government must be on defending the national interests of the whole island of Ireland now and in the weeks ahead, as we head towards this European Council meeting.”

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