No regrets for DUP MEP over missed meeting with Michel Barnier

A DUP MEP has rejected "missing an opportunity" by not meeting the European Union's Brexit negotiator during a visit to the Irish border.

Michel Barnier is due to visit Londonderry on Tuesday.

However, the DUP's Diane Dodds said she has already committed to meetings in London and could not meet him.

She said: "I have many, many opportunities to speak to Michel Barnier and I never miss opportunities."

Last week, Mrs Dodds and Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson issued a joint statement welcoming Mr Barnier's, visit but expressed disappointment it was announced by a Sinn Fein MP.

She told the BBC's Sunday Politics: "Michel Barnier is the negotiator for the EU 27. I am delighted that he is coming to Northern Ireland.

"I was told by the EU Commission that this was an opportunity to meet stakeholders and not politicians.

"I certainly meet Michel Barnier on a very regular basis and debate with him in the Strasbourg chamber.

She also said the DUP met him in Brussels "a few weeks ago" and insisted it was important to "input" into the Brexit discussions in London.

The DUP representative said: "Michel Barnier has no doubt about the views of the DUP and the people that I represent on the issue of Brexit and the issue of the border, on the issue of the Customs Union and the single market."

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson said there was a chance for the region's three MEP's to "collectively" express views on the implications of Brexit.

"It is not for me to tell Diane at all what she should be prioritising, but here we have the commissioner who is leading the negotiations in our constituency on Tuesday.

"Now that's an opportunity for Diane to be able to give her views and opinion," she said.