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‘Dublin must make special status its top priority’ - O’Dowd

17 July, 2017 - by John O'Dowd

The Irish Government needs to begin acting the national interest – including the rights of EU citizens in the North – now that the second phase of Brexit negotiations has begun, Sinn Féin Brexit spokesperson John O’Dowd has said.

The Upper Bann MLA was commenting as the second round of formal talks got underway in Brussels today with the Irish border expected to be high on the agenda.

He said:

“As a member state, the Dublin Government is a key player in these negotiations as it is the member states who will ultimately decide the outcome, not Westminster and not Theresa May’s cabinet.

“Therefore the Irish Government is in a very powerful position and they need to use that influence to act in the national interests of all the European citizens on the island of Ireland. 

“It is Sinn Féin’s firm view that the only way to do that is by prioritising the designated special status for the North to remain in the EU. That is the only way to avoid a new frontier on the island of Ireland, given that the EU has already warned that border checks are inevitable in the event of the Britain leaving the Customs Union. 

“The EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has also made clear he will only negotiate with sovereign governments so there is a compelling democratic imperative on the Irish Government to act in the national interests. They must pursue special status because it has been supported in the Oireachtas and of, course, by the majority of the people in the North who voted to remain in the Brexit referendum.

“Therefore, there is now a clear responsibility on the Taoiseach and the government’s negotiating team to reflect that position in the current talks and make special status for the North its top priority.” 

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