Any threat to backstop ‘would be disastrous’

Colum Eastwood.
Colum Eastwood.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA has travelled to Brussels for talks with European politicians to ensure the North’s interests are protected in the crunch talks taking place.

The Foyle MLA said he met with the SDLP’s “sister parties from across Europe” during the visit on Wednesday, which came as Theresa May addressed European leaders in the Belgian capital.

The Irish border again took centre stage as British Prime Minister said that intensive work was still needed on all sides to find a solution to the uncertainty.

The Tory party and the DUP have refused to entertain suggestions that a regulatory special case for Northern Ireland could be implemented to avoid border checks on the island of Ireland.

The EU and the Irish Government, meanwhile, has remained insistent that a backstop safeguard to protect Ireland north and south must be included in any deal.

Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Eastwood said: “At this crucial time in the negotiations it is important that we use our influence with our friends from across Europe to continue to press the case for the North to be protected.

“I have constantly reminded our sister parties of the need for our citizens and the Good Friday Agreement to be protected.

“Today I have made it clear again that any threat to the all-weather backstop, as agreed last December, would be unacceptable and a socio-economic disaster for the North.”