Mary Lou McDonald: British government 'playing a game of chicken' over the border

Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald outside Westminster. Picture by Stefan Rousseau, Press Association

SINN Féin leaders have accused the British government of "playing a game of chicken" over the question of the Irish border.

Speaking after a meeting with Theresa May in Lomndon yesterday party president Mary Lou McDonald said it was clea the Government is "playing for time, running down the clock, and playing what we believe is a very, very dangerous game of brinkmanship".

She said they heard nothing new from Mrs May in what she described as a frank meeting.

"We heard rhetoric which at this stage is well worn.

"We've heard again the contradictory message of protecting Ireland, the Good Friday Agreement, no hardening of the border, but yet a determination to leave the single market and the customs union and to take the north with them."

Mrs McDonald said everything they heard in the meeting adds to their worries, rather than relieving their concerns.

"The British now wish to leapfrog, set aside, disregard, the Irish question, to pursue their own interests in respect of a new relationship that they may wish to craft.

"That is very dangerous for Ireland. That is unacceptable," she said.

Mrs McDonald said she expects Irish leaders and their EU partners will make that absolutely clear to Mrs May and the UK Government.

Vice president Michelle O'Neill, who also attended the meeting, said lack of progress politically in Northern Ireland was down to a "political vacuum that has been allowed because of this relationship and is all about trying to keep the Tories in power at the expense of government in the north of Ireland".

"It's not acceptable. The British Government need to step up and play their role as co-guarantors of our peace process.

"They need to step up and deliver rights that are available elsewhere to other citizens here whether that be marriage equality or language rights - all things that are freely available across these islands but not to people in the north.

"We are being treated as this little backwater area where we can't get our rights and we're being denied economic prosperity because of Brexit".

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