'United voice to protect backstop ' - O'Neill
Sinn Féin Vice-President Michelle O’Neill MLA today confirmed that she has agreed a meeting with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier which will include Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance and the Green Party travelling together to Brussels on 24 September.
Michelle O’Neill said:
“In only eight months on 29 March 2019 Britain will leave the European Union.
“The circumstances and nature of this departure is still frankly unknown, as we do not know the shape of any deal, or if one will be done at all.
“I have said repeatedly since the Brexit referendum two years ago that I fully respect the right of the British people to leave the EU and I wish them well.
“However, I am absolutely opposed to the British Government dragging the north of Ireland out of the EU against our will, and as democratically expressed by the people.
“Our party leadership has met with Theresa May in London and in Belfast a number of times over the last year and spelt out to her the colossal political, economic and social impact Brexit will have for this entire island, but in particular the north, its people and their future prosperity.
“This position is shared by all of the main parties in the north, with the exception of the DUP.
“Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and Greens have stood together on a common platform to make clear publicly and in the strongest possible terms to both London, Dublin and Brussels that the north cannot withstand exclusion from the single market or customs union.
“The Good Friday Agreement must be fully honoured and protected, including its human rights and equality provisions – not rhetorically but legally and practically.
“The Backstop agreed by both the British and the EU27 is the bottom line in order to safeguard our political and economic stability, now and in the future.
"Sinn Féin and our colleagues in the SDLP, Alliance and the Green Party represent the majority view of people in the north.
“Later this month I along with these other parties will meet collectively with the EU Chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Brussels, and continue to constructively engage with the Taskforce and all those who believe in defending our hard won peace, protecting the Good Friday Agreement and fighting for the best possible deal which avoids the north becoming an isolated, deteriorating backwater.
“There will be no borders in Ireland.”