DUP shouldn’t have backed Brexit if they were so concerned about customs checks: Sinn Fein leader

PUBLISHED: 12:08 10 December 2019 | UPDATED: 13:59 10 December 2019

Sinn Feinleader Mary Lou McDonald (left) has told DUP leader Arlene Foster (right) that she shouldn't have backed Brexit if she didn't want a customs border in the Irish Sea. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

Sinn Feinleader Mary Lou McDonald (left) has told DUP leader Arlene Foster (right) that she shouldn't have backed Brexit if she didn't want a customs border in the Irish Sea. Picture: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

PA Archive/PA Images

The DUP leader ‘shouldn’t have championed Brexit’ if she had been truly concerned about the possibility of customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, said Sinn Fein’s president today.

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Mary Lou McDonald was speaking in reaction to the DUP's Arlene Foster, who expressed her disappointment at Boris Johnson having broken his word to her that there would be no border between the two places.

DUP leader accuses Boris Johnson of breaking his word over NI customs checks

Johnson assured Foster that there would be no customs checks - something which leaked Treasury documents and government officals later contradicted.

Asked about this on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, McDonald said: "Well, we fundamentally disagree with her because we didn't want Brexit, and if Arlene Foster is that concerned about checks on goods, well, then she shouldn't have championed Brexit.

"Britain exiting the single market and the customs union means that of course there are going to be checks and tariffs and customs, not just with Ireland, but with other EU countries.

"And whether Arlene likes it or not, and whether the British political system likes it or not, Ireland is different, and whoever is in Number 10 Downing Street be very clear on this: the island of Ireland will require special protections and special provisions and the British state has to honour that as per the Good Friday Agreement."

On her party not taking its seats in Westminster, she said: "It's been a long, hard road for Ireland, for this island to extricate itself from the grip of the old colonial power, and the truth is that Westminster is not the forum in which Irish interests have ever been served."

Asked if Sinn Fein could have the casting vote in the event of a hung parliament and second referendum scenario, she said however that "Sinn Fein MPs, or indeed Irish MPs, will not stop Brexit, that's not going to happen".

She also said: "The simple facts are, whether we like them or not - and we are very much against Brexit, the north of Ireland has not consented to Brexit - but nonetheless there is a majority for it. That majority derives from a vote in England."

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