Political news

Only route for north back into the EU is via united Ireland, says SDLP's Matthew O'Toole

SDLP Stormont leader Matthew O'Toole speaking at the party's conference in Derry. Picture by Declan Roughan/Press Eye

A UNIFIED Ireland provides the only "viable route" back into the EU, according to the SDLP's Stormont leader.

Matthew O'Toole was speaking to The Irish News after the party's conference backed a motion welcoming the Windsor Framework and supporting "the long-term return of Northern Ireland into the European Union, through the unification of Ireland".

The SDLP has been critical of the pro-Remain Alliance Party's 'agnostic' position on the constitutional question, which the nationalist party argues offers no plan for rejoining the EU, beyond a reversal of the Brexit vote.

Mr O'Toole said the SDLP had set out a "clear vision" of how the north would get back into the Europe at its weekend conference in Derry.

"There's only one viable route back into the EU for the north and it is via a new Ireland," he said.

"That isn't some narrow nationalist vision, but a profoundly internationalist vision for this island and all our people."

The South Belfast MLA said "certain other parties drop hints and suggestions about rejoining the EU".

"They do this without having the political and intellectual honesty to acknowledge that a new Ireland is the only route back into the heart of Europe," he said.

"Worse, some of them imply or say outright that aspiring to rejoin the EU via a new Ireland is somehow divisive.

"It is time for those parties to either have the honesty to say the only realistic back into Europe is via a new Ireland or to acknowledge that they have no plan to get into Europe."