Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has rejected Sinn Fein’s calls for special EU status for what it calls “the north” and criticised its MEPs for once again attempting to use Europe to create a false sense of ambiguity about the constitutional position of Northern Ireland.
Mr Nicholson said:
“There is goodwill in Brussels for Northern Ireland, as there was back in 1994 when we secured the PEACE funds as Northern Ireland began to move away from terrorist violence.
“There is, however, not much goodwill for political opportunists. Just last year, Sinn Fein embarrassed even its own colleagues in Brussels when they were forced to change a Sinn Fein amendment that erroneously referred to Northern Ireland as the “north of Ireland”.
“Sinn Fein says it supports special status for Northern Ireland. I find this hard to believe, given that it cannot even recognise Northern Ireland as a legitimate entity and integral part of the United Kingdom. Its MEPs cannot even bring themselves to say ‘Northern Ireland’.
“There is no legal or political entity in the European Union known as “the north”. This is yet another futile attempt to create a false sense of ambiguity about Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom.
“As even Nicola Sturgeon is beginning to realise in Scotland, the United Kingdom entered the EEC as a whole, and it will leave the EU as a whole.
“Since the referendum result in June I have been making the case that Northern Ireland’s voice must be heard, and that if the Government does not get the Brexit negotiations right, Northern Ireland will have the most to lose. Scotland and Wales have both presented proposals to the Government as negotiations begin. The Northern Ireland Executive - jointly led by Sinn Fein and the DUP - has not. Only the Ulster Unionist Party has laid out any kind of serious Brexit plan for Northern Ireland."