Brexit: Sinn Féin, SDLP, Alliance and Greens set for Michel Barnier talks

Alliance's Naomi Long, the SDLP's Colum Eastwood, Sinn Féin's Michelle O'Neill and the Green Party's Steven Agnew. Picture by Hugh Russell
Brendan Hughes

LEADERS of Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and Green Party are to make a joint trip to Brussels to meet with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

They are due to travel together on September 24 to discuss concerns over the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland.

The pro-Remain parties have previously released joint statements calling for the north remain in the single market and customs union when the UK leaves the European Union.

Sinn Féin vice-president Michelle O'Neill said concerns over Brexit are "shared by all of the main parties in the north, with the exception of the DUP".

"Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and Greens have stood together on a common platform to make clear publicly and in the strongest possible terms to both London, Dublin and Brussels that the north cannot withstand exclusion from the single market or customs union," she said.

"The Good Friday Agreement must be fully honoured and protected, including its human rights and equality provisions – not rhetorically but legally and practically.

"The backstop agreed by both the British and the EU27 is the bottom line in order to safeguard our political and economic stability, now and in the future."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the parties will use the meeting with Mr Barnier to "jointly make the case that it is absolutely essential that the north is protected from a hard Brexit".

He added: "The SDLP has made it clear time and time again that the only way to ensure that our way of life is untouched is to remain within the single market and customs union.

"We do not need a new border in Ireland and we do not need a new economic border in the Irish Sea."

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