Theresa May must break up ‘toxic marriage’ with DUP – Sinn Fein

The UK Government must break up its “toxic marriage” with the DUP if livelihoods in Northern Ireland are to be saved post-Brexit, Sinn Fein has warned.

Accusing their erstwhile partners in powersharing of pursuing a “reckless, narrow agenda” over the contentious border backstop issue, senior party members called on Theresa May to “keep her word”.

Sinn Fein activists demonstrate outside Stormont
Sinn Fein activists demonstrate outside Stormont (David Young/PA)

Sinn Fein activists held a small demonstration in the grounds of Stormont on Wednesday before handing in a letter outlining their concerns at the offices of Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley. Three campaigners donned Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg face masks.

Sinn Fein Assembly member Mairtin O Muilleoir said DUP efforts to thwart Mrs May striking a deal that would ensure a freeflowing trade and regulatory border should be resisted.

The DUP is opposed to any backstop agreement that would result in increased checks on goods and produce moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

A few unexpected participants attending today’s anti-Brexit rally at Stormont… pic.twitter.com/6buyNQlAi7

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Referring to the Conservatives’ confidence and supply pact with the DUP, Mr O Muilleoir said: “We are asking Mrs May the British Prime Minister to look above and beyond that relationship and alliance she has with the DUP and instead make a decision which is in line with what she promised previously and also in the interests of all the people here.

“That is that we remain in the customs union and we remain in the single market to all extents for the all-Ireland economy, but also that it protects the Good Friday Agreement and the advances we have made for peace and reconciliation.”

Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir
Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir urged the UK government to break its links with the DUP (David Young/PA)

He later added: “Maybe it is unusual for an Irish republican to be saying that to the British Prime Minister but – keep your word.

“You committed last December to the backstop, you agreed to avoid a hard border in Ireland and the alternative is really calamitous.”

Asked on suggestions that the EU might offer an extension to the transition period afforded the UK after Brexit as a negotiation concession, the Sinn Fein MLA said it was evidence of the “flexibility” Europe was willing to show to secure a deal.