Calls for united voice on Brexit ahead of Theresa May visit
THERE were calls last night for Stormont's parties to agree a united stance on Brexit ahead of a visit by British Prime Minister Theresa May later this week.
Mrs May is expected to come to Northern Ireland on Thursday as she tours the UK regions before next Wednesday's triggering of Article 50.
There have been repeated calls for 'special status' that would enable the north to maintain some links with Brussels since last June's referendum saw 56 per cent of people vote to remain in the EU.
However, while Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance have been vocal advocates of this approach, the DUP has said the will of the wider UK electorate to leave must be respected.
With Mrs May expected to meet party leaders during her visit, there have been calls for Stormont to speak with one voice.
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the British government's "Article 50 solo run" needed to be met with strength from the devolved administrations.
"In the north that means that all parties must come together to adopt a common position on Brexit that defends the interests of people here," he said.
Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry said there was a pressing need for a "coherent and sustainable executive" to be put in place.
"Northern Ireland needs a strong governmental voice to stand up and advocate for the interests of this region – the provision of a proper plan for Brexit needs to be a core component of any coalition agreement emerging from the current talks."
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams meanwhile called on the Dublin government to help secure special status for the north.
"That is the consensus of the majority of parties north and south," he said.
"If the British government succeeds in its plans, it will drive part of Ireland out of the European Union – that is not acceptable."