First Minister Arlene Foster RMG
FIRST Minister Arlene Foster has said she will be “working to secure the best exit deal for Northern Ireland” after Prime Minister Theresa May announced that formal Brexit negotiations will commence next year.
Arlene Foster was speaking following Mrs May’s confirmation at the Conservative Party conference that she will trigger Article 50 in the spring. The Prime Minister said there will be “no unnecessary delays” in negotiating to leave the European Union and confirmed she will begin the two-year process by the end of next March.
The DUP, who fought a leave campaign in the June referendum, have welcomed the move, which has been criticised by Sinn Fein.
Mrs Foster said that she still believes that the decision to leave the EU is in the best interests of the United Kingdom.
“It is important to collectively work to secure the best deal for Northern Ireland as the exit process commences next year. It is important to maximise our opportunities as well as overcoming the challenges unique to Northern Ireland.
“I will work alongside other parties, despite our differences on the referendum outcome, to get that deal for our people. There are huge opportunities for Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom collectively and we want to make the most of them,” she added.
However her fellow Fermanagh MLA Sean Lynch has criticised the Tory party’s vision set out at their conference, warning that it will lead to a hard border across Ireland.
Mr Lynch told the Herald: “Theresa May’s speech to her party conference was a failed attempt to bring certainty to Brexit and unify her party. For all the Tory rhetoric, it is clear that Britain cannot dictate the terms of Brexit and any new relationship with the EU.
“Despite their claims to the contrary, the vision set out by the Tory party will lead to a hard border across Ireland. Their position on the European Court of Justice also runs contrary to the Good Friday Agreement.”
The Sinn Fein Assembly member said the Prime Minister had dismissed the wishes of the people of the North to remain in the EU.
“Brexit is by no means a done deal and it is vitally important that people mobilise in a campaign to confront the selfish approach of the British government which holds out the potential to hugely damage our economy. They are treating our agreements and economy as collateral damage.”
Mr Lynch has also urged the Irish government “to act on an all-Ireland and European level to represent the democratic wishes of the people of the North and respect the remain vote.”
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Posted: 1:22 pm October 8, 2016