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There can be no retreat from the backstop – O’Neill

8 February, 2019 - by Michelle O'Neill

After meeting the Taoiseach today, Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill has said there can be no dilution or retreat from the Irish backstop.

A Sinn Féin leadership delegation including Conor Murphy, MLA Pearse Doherty TD and Elisha McCallion MP, met with Leo Vardakar in Belfast. Following the meeting Michelle O’Neill said:

“We had a productive and detailed discussion with the Taoiseach today. It is vital that Ireland stands firm in the face of the last-ditch attempt by the British government to renegotiate the Irish backstop.

“The backstop is our only insurance policy to prevent a hard British border in Ireland. It is supported by the majority of citizens, businesses and other key sectors of our society and people.

“Any retreat from it would jeopardise Irish interests, the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement. With the exception of the unionist parties, there is political unanimity north and south on the need to protect the backstop.  

“Of course, the actions of the British Government in seeking to ditch the Backstop are not only an act of bad faith, they have also made the prospects of a catastrophic no deal crash much more likely.

“We reiterated today that in the event of a no deal, the government should immediately begin preparing for a Unity referendum. 

“Such a referendum is entirely consistent with the Good Friday Agreement and, if passed, would see the entire island readmitted to the European Union.”

Turning to the prospect of restoring the Stormont government, the Sinn Féin Deputy Leader added: 

“We discussed with the Taoiseach our recent meeting with the British Prime minister during which she failed to mention the power-sharing institutions in the North.

“That gives some indication of where her government’s priorities are and is clearly another consequence of the Tory toxic pact with the DUP.

“The DUP has made it clear they are not interested in a sensible Brexit deal and they are not interested in a sensible agreement to restore the Assembly which delivers rights and equality.”

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