DUP Confirms it Will Vote Against Prime Minister’s Brexit Deal

Sammy Wilson, the Brexit spokesperson for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has confirmed that it will not back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. The confirmation, although expected, will make it harder for Theresa May to secure his favoured withdrawal agreement.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Wilson said:

“It’s not just because of the regulations which Northern Ireland would be subject to with the backstop, but also the fact we would have to treat the rest of the United Kingdom as a third country, we would not participate in any trade deals which the United Kingdom may enter into in the future and we would find that there would be a border down the Irish Sea which would impede trade with our biggest trading partner, namely GB”.

Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader of the DUP, said in a statement:

“The Irish Republic’s ‘no deal’ preparations published just before Christmas have laid bare the nonsense propaganda about a hard border. No one wants a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Indeed, its becoming clearer by the day that no one is ever going to construct such a border. With this clarity emerging in London, Dublin and Brussels, there is evidently no need for the aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement which have been so vigorously opposed by a broad cross section of the House of Commons”.

Sinn Fein President Tells Theresa May to Take a Lead on Talks in Northern Ireland

Mary Lou McDonald, the President of Sinn Fein, has told the Guardian newspaper that Theresa May, the Prime Minister, needs to take a lead on talks in Northern Ireland.

McDonald said:

“The confidence and supply agreement causes a huge, huge problem: it robs even the pretence of impartiality in the minds of many; and I do have a concern, and I shared this with Theresa May, that she might soft-pedal, that she might put things off, in order to protect that arrangement.

The other thing about the confidence and supply arrangement was the commitment to the Tories on Brexit.

It’s not her words, it’s her actions: we’ve had words until we’ve nearly given each other migraines. In the final analysis, to get this sorted out, you can only judge and make a call when the words are silent and when you look to the actions”.

She added that the party would still refuse to take its seven seats in the British House of Commons to try to prevent Brexit, saying:

“We are an abstentionist party, I do not foresee us changing that position”.

Prime Minister Speaks to Irish Taioseach Leo Varadkar about Northern Ireland

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken on the phone to Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taioseach, about the current situation on power sharing in Northern Ireland. The recent talks to allow the Northern Ireland Assembly to operate required agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP, which wasn’t reached.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister spoke to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the phone earlier this evening. They spoke about the recent phase of political talks in Northern Ireland and of their disappointment that an agreement had not yet been reached to restore an Executive. Both leaders recognised the progress and serious engagement made by the parties.

The Prime Minister said she believed there was scope for agreement and reiterated the UK Government’s priority was still to get devolution up and running again in Northern Ireland. They agreed to continue to stay in close contact as the parties reflect on the best way forward to re-establish devolved Government in Northern Ireland”.

Prime Ministers Calls Representatives from Sinn Fein and the DUP After Talks Collapse

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has contacted representatives from Sinn Fein and the DUP following the collapse of power sharing talks in Northern Ireland. Despite hopes for an agreement there is limited hope of any substantial progress being made in the near future.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister spoke to the leaders of Sinn Fein and the DUP on the phone earlier this evening about the recent phase of political talks in Northern Ireland. In both phone calls the Prime Minister expressed her disappointment that an agreement had not yet been reached despite recent progress being made by everyone involved.

She reiterated how the government remains absolutely committed to restoring an Executive and that it is still her firm belief that restoring devolved government – so that democratically elected politicians can make locally accountable decisions – is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister was clear that she still believes the basis for an agreement exists and recognised the leadership both parties had shown over past weeks and months. She urged them both to reflect on the recent phase of talks in order to find the best way forward.

On next steps, the Prime Minister was clear that the UK government has a responsibility to consider what needed to be done to protect the interests of Northern Ireland in the ongoing absence of an Executive. She added that the Northern Ireland Secretary would continue to work closely with the parties, and the Irish Government in accordance with the three stranded approach, to support that process”.

Northern Ireland Power Sharing Talks Collapse

Attempts to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland have today collapsed without a deal being obtained. The failure to reach agreement comes after over a year of talks and is thought to have been based around disagreements over the Irish language and same-sex marriage. Northern Ireland will continue to be governed directly from Westminster until a settlement can be found.

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, said:

“For almost four weeks, we have been engaged in intensive negotiations with Sinn Féin. We have attempted to find a stable and sustainable basis for restoring devolution. Those discussions have been unsuccessful. Despite our best efforts, serious and significant gaps remain between ourselves and Sinn Féin, especially on the issue of the Irish language”.

Michelle O’Neill, representing Sinn Fein, blamed the DUP, saying:

“We had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP. The DUP failed to close the deal. They have now collapsed this process”.

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said in a statement:

“Both parties have conducted discussions seriously and in good faith. While substantive progress towards an agreement has been made, it appears that this phase of talks has reached a conclusion. I would urge everyone to reflect on the circumstances which have led to this and their positions, both now and in the future.

The position of the UK Government remains the same: devolved government is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland and is best for the Union. I believe the basis for an accommodation still exists. As the Prime Minister said during her visit on Monday, we are ready to bring forward legislation to enable an Executive to be formed.

We will continue to work with everyone to make sure we do deliver this. We now need to consider practical steps. In the continued absence of an Executive, other challenging decisions will have to be taken by the UK Government. I will update Parliament when the House returns from Recess next week”.

Owen Smith, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said:

“This is desperately disappointing news, especially as there had been widespread hope last week that a deal might be reached. It seems clear, however, that the cause of the breakdown was the DUP’s unwillingness to accept legislation to support the Irish language or marriage equality. Their lack of leadership on these issues, despite their powerful position in Stormont and Westminster, leaves Northern Ireland without an accountable government or a voice in the Brexit negotiations.

Karen Bradley will now have to explain how she hopes to get the DUP back to the table, and if that proves impossible, how she is going to take forward issues such as equal marriage, as well as dealing with tough decisions on health, education and infrastructure that have been left unresolved for over 400 days”.

Karen Bradley Welcomes US Decision on Bombardier

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has welcomed a decision by the US Trade Commission which will prevent the US Government from imposing 292% import tariffs on products made by Bombardier. It was feared that hundreds of jobs would have been lost if the decision hadn’t been reversed.

Bradley said in a statement:

“It is excellent news that the International Trade Commission has unanimously found in favour of Bombardier. It is great that the company will continue to play a hugely important role in our economy as we build a Northern Ireland fit for the future.

I know Bombardier workers and their families have been waiting some time for this and I wish them well as we welcome this news together.

The UK Government has been working tirelessly to safeguard Bombardier jobs and argued from the very start this case was wholly unjustified”.

Karen Bradley in First Visit to Northern Ireland as Secretary of State

Karen Bradley, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has visited the province for the first time since her appointment this week. She visited Belfast Metropolitan College in the city to meet both students and staff.

In a statement Bradley said:

“I am absolutely delighted to be in Belfast and to be appointed to this important Cabinet post and I am really looking forward to getting down to work as quickly as possible. I want to work with all sections of the community here to help build a Northern Ireland that is fit for the future and that works for everyone.

During my visit to Belfast Metropolitan College, I have been struck by the wonderful education facilities that are available to students here. Throughout the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is highly regarded for the excellent levels of education it provides, as well as the high calibre of its students – they can hold their heads high and compete with the best from around the world;

And of course I can’t forget the marvellous tourism that this part of the world is so famous for – the Giant’s Causeway, the Mourne Mountains and of course the No 1 visitor attraction in the world – Titanic Belfast. I know my family are already looking forward to getting to know this beautiful part of the United Kingdom.

Of course I have a very important job to do, and as I said yesterday my immediate challenge and key objective is to ensure that Northern Ireland has a devolved government in place in order to address the issues that affect everyone’s lives, including health, education and the economy. I’m also conscious of the need to deliver a Brexit that works for Northern Ireland and to ensure everyone is safe and secure.

It is fitting my first visit should be to Titanic Quarter, which reflects both Belfast and Northern Ireland’s past and its future. Once one of the world’s leading industrial cities and now one of the world’s largest urban-waterfront regeneration schemes.

And I understand the importance of dealing with the past and securing a safe and prosperous future. My aim is to work collaboratively to find solutions to these issues acceptable to everyone.

I have spoken to all the main party leaders. While there will be many challenges in the coming weeks – which all parties will need to rise to – I will do all that I can to ensure that we find a way to restore devolution to Northern Ireland”.

Northern Ireland Secretary Welcomes Airbus Investment in Bombardier

James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has welcomed the investment by Airbus into Bombardier. The move would allow the C-Series to be produced and avoid proposed US tariffs, as well as ensuring the employment of many workers in Northern Ireland.

Brokenshire said in a statement:

“Last night’s announcement that Airbus is taking a stake in Bombardier’s C-Series is positive and welcome news for Northern Ireland.

We have been working tirelessly across Government to secure the future of the C-Series in recent months, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure the unjustified case brought by Boeing reaches a swift and effective resolution.

Our number one priority throughout has been to safeguard jobs and livelihoods in Belfast. While there are still some steps before the deal is completed, this is clearly a significant move forward for the C-Series and for the workforce in Northern Ireland”.

James Brokenshire Says Restoration of Devolution is a Priority

James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has said that the restoration of devolution in the province is a priority. No Executive has yet been formed following the elections earlier in the year and agreement hasn’t been reached between the parties on how to proceed.

Brokenshire said in a statement:

“My priority is to see the restoration of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, working on a sustainable basis to deliver good government for everyone. Over the summer I have kept in touch with the political parties and I will be bringing them together over the next week as we enter a new phase of talks.

Urgent progress is required. The lack of an Executive making key decisions on matters including health and education means that public services in Northern Ireland are suffering. We need to find a way forward that will allow an Executive to be formed.

We must ensure that politicians locally are working together to strengthen the economy, to deal with the challenges and opportunities of EU Exit, and build a stronger, shared society based on respect for everyone. Ultimately, it is for Northern Ireland’s political parties to find a way to make this work”.

No Agreement on Power Sharing in Northern Ireland

No agreement has been reached following power sharing talks in Northern Ireland after the elections which were held on 2 March 2017. The two largest parties in the Assembly, Sinn Fein and the DUP, failed to reach agreement and have blamed each other for the delay, with the deadline for agreement now exceeded.

Nigel Dodds, the Deputy Leader of the DUP, said:

“It is very clear from the people they had at the talks that they were very focused on their southern election prospects, that is deeply regrettable”.

Gerry Adams, the President of Sinn Fein, said:

“The DUP’s approach thus far has been to engage in a minimalist way on all of the key issues, including legacy issues, an Irish Language Act, a Bill of Rights, and marriage equality”.

James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has said that he will continue to try to reach agreement with the major parties in the process. He said on Sunday 26 March 2017:

“I have spoken to the Prime Minister this afternoon and this remains the UK government’s continuing priority”.