European Parliament votes against Sinn Fein's special status: MEP Dodds

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has welcomed a decision by MEPs in Strasbourg to reject Sinn Fein's call for a '˜special designated status' which would keep Northern Ireland inside the EU as the rest of the United Kingdom leaves.

Commenting after the vote, which followed debate on the European Commission’s priorities for 2018, Mrs Dodds, pictured, said: “Since last June Sinn Fein and others have made a special designated status their big ticket priority for Brexit.

“Their plan would see Northern Ireland remain under Brussels control while the rest of the UK leaves. This would prevent our Province from harnessing new opportunities which flow from Brexit as an integral part of the Union. Critically it would also cut us off from the GB market - by far the most importance marketplace for local goods and services from Northern Ireland,” she added.

“It is clear that support for this scenario has gained little traction. The negotiating guidelines published by the European Parliament and Council earlier this year make no reference to a special designated status and both Governments in London and Dublin have failed to back the proposal. Ultimately this week’s vote by MEPs is further demonstration that Sinn Fein’s Brexit charm offensive has failed miserably.

“Within the European Institutions there is widespread recognition of Northern Ireland’s unique position in respect of our land border with the Republic of Ireland,” added Mrs Dodds.

“Across the spectrum there is a willingness to give particular attention to these special circumstances in the exit talks that have begun. However we are clear that any solution agreed must respect that Northern Ireland will be an integral part of an independent United Kingdom.

“Moving forward the DUP will continue to work tirelessly, engaging closely with stakeholders across sectors affected, and using our influence both at Westminster and in Brussels, to ensure that our Province gets the best possible deal from Brexit.”