Published: Wed, May 02, 2018
Money | By Bruce West

Michel Barnier says European Union open to any deal which supports GFA

Michel Barnier says European Union open to any deal which supports GFA

The two largest parties in Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin and the DUP, are on opposing sides over the Britain's exit from the EU.

Leaked papers from the head of the Northern Irish Civil Service warned Mrs May's European Union sherpa Olly Robbins that no matter the outcome of Brexit negotiations, Northern Ireland will feel an economic squeeze to some extent.

Mr Barnier is on the second of a two day visit to Ireland and has spoken about his desire to avoid a hard border.

Asked about the European Union maintaining peace funding in Northern Ireland, Mr Barnier said: "I think that we must, and we have to maintain co-operation between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and in particular to maintain the peace programme".

"I think he's minded to come up with a solution that works best for the unique scenario that we have in this region".

"Michel Barnier's trying to present himself as someone who cares deeply about Northern Ireland, and if that is the case he needs to hear the fact that we are part of the United Kingdom (and) will remain part of the United Kingdom constitutionally, politically, and economically", Foster told the BBC.

Michel Barnier was greeted at the Guildhall in Derry by Sinn Féin's Martina Anderson.

"We have to acknowledge that the continued absence of functioning political institutions in Northern Ireland is, at least partly, a effect of concerns about, and different positions on, Brexit".

Following today's meeting, Ulster University's Magee Provost, Malachy O'Neill said the discussion had been frank and open.

But Mr Nicholson said unionists would "take no lessons in terms of manners" from convicted IRA bomber Ms Anderson, adding her past offences are "evidence of more than mere bad manners".

She said the current wording "doesn't include the movement of services", adding: "People living on the island of Ireland will notice a hardening of the border if we have that backstop option coming into play".

"I think it's unfortunate that they haven't turned up".

"All three of us should be maximising the opportunity when Michel Barnier is in our constituency".

"We're as positive as we can be in, I suppose, what's an overall negative situation", he said.

Dodds said she had not snubbed Barnier but had committed to meetings in London and could not meet him.

Mr Varadkar acknowledged some unionists were anxious that Brexit could be used to undermine Northern Ireland's union with Britain.

"The UK has chose to leave the European policies", he said, "but we can maintain this co-operation thanks to the Interreg programme and in my view thanks to the peace programme".

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