Brexit: Northern Ireland MEPs make impassioned Brussels speeches

European Union flags in front of the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium
Staff Reporter

NORTHERN Ireland's MEPs have made impassioned pleas to colleagues in the European Parliament in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The DUP's Diane Dodds insisted the UK had "not turned its back on Europe", despite the decision to leave the EU.

But Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson pleaded for Northern Ireland, where a majority voted Remain, to be allowed to stay in the union.

"If English votes drag us out of the EU, that would be like Britannia waives the rules," she said.

"I tell you that the last thing that the people of Ireland need is an EU border with 27 member states stuck right in the middle of it."

Mrs Dodds told Brussels the EU had turned a "deaf ear" to people's concerns for several years.

"Our nation has not turned its back on Europe - we are not inward-thinking," she said.

"We have for a long time sought a new relationship with our European allies - a positive relationship based on self-governance, free trade and co-operation - to make our world more secure and more prosperous.

"That doesn't make us any less European and it doesn't make us any less optimistic. History proves that an independent United Kingdom not only has the strength of character to succeed for ourselves, but also the inherent humanity to defend the freedoms of our neighbours."

Meanwhile, Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson said the referendum result "must be respected" but raised concerns about the economic impact of Brexit, including the sharp fall in sterling.

He claimed neither the British or European parliaments had a "serious plan".

"We must negotiate to get the best deal possible for all our people," he said.

"Neither the UK nor the EU will benefit from any deal that is rushed and hot-headed."

He added: "I am afraid however that the limited response from the Northern Ireland Executive thus far does not fill me with much hope."

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