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Michel Barnier meets unionist MEPs in Brussels

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier meets Diane Dodds and Jim Nicholson in Brussels

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier yesterday met the north's two unionist MEPs in Brussels.

The DUP's Diane Dodds and her Ulster Unionist counterpart Jim Nicholson were unable to accept an invitation to meet Mr Barnier when he visited Derry earlier this week, though he did meet Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson.

Mr Nicholson described yesterday's 45-minute meeting as productive, saying it was "important that all voices in Northern Ireland are heard".

Mrs Dodds said she had encouraged the EU "to fully participate in finding pragmatic solutions for the border", while she also emphasised an apparent "perception amongst unionists" that Mr Barnier's recent visit to the north lacked balance.

The EU's chief negotiator mostly met border-based business in Newry and Derry on Monday and Tuesday respectively.

According to an EU spokesman, Mr Barnier told the MEPs that he was open to examining alternatives, but underlined the need to have a legally operational backstop agreed and signed off in time for the October deadline for the Withdrawal Agreement.

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