- Ulster Unionists reject notion of border in the Irish Sea
- Taoiseach should withdraw his comments
Lord Empey said:
“I strongly support the statement from my colleague Jim Nicholson MEP with regard to the idea of a border up the middle of the Irish sea after Brexit. Ulster Unionists totally reject this and have been warning about this for months, and we took our concerns to Ministers in the Brexit Department in Whitehall and asked Parliamentary Questions to which we received positive answers.
“Were there to be any backsliding from the commitment to having no border up the middle of the Irish Sea, a very serious constitutional situation would arise.
“The Irish Government is playing into Sinn Fein's hands; that party is calling for Northern Ireland to be given 'special status' within the EU. This is shorthand for a major change in our constitutional position and a repudiation of the principle of consent contained in the Belfast Agreement. They are playing with fire.
“Up until now there has been a consensus amongst all parties throughout these islands and both governments that none of us want a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This welcome consensus could be threatened however, if the Irish government persists in trying to use this consensus as a vehicle for advancing an all-Ireland agenda. Indeed, if anyone should be seeking “special status” it should be the Irish Republic.
“Apart from the constitutional position of unionists, our trade with Great Britain accounts for 60% of our external sales compared to 15% with the Republic of Ireland. The arithmetic speaks for itself.
“I call upon the Irish Prime Minister to withdraw his proposal immediately. Failure to do so may well lead to unionists of all hues revisiting the issue of an open border on this island.”