SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA has described talks with EU Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt during his visit to Ireland this week as “constructive”.
The Foyle Assemblyman led a delegation which included SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon MLA and Claire Hanna MLA on the challenges facing the North as a result of the Tory Brexit.
Speaking after the meeting on Wednesday, he said: “The SDLP has long advocated that the unique circumstances and unique challenges that we face here demand a unique solution.
“It is very welcome to have a voice at the centre of the European Union that supports and will advocate that position.”
He said the Executive needed to be up and running and at the centre of the talks.
“It is very unfortunate that we are left to have those discussions today while we are stuck in a political vacuum,” he said. “It is complete madness that there is an economic and political tsunami coming towards us and we do not have an Executive in place, a point Mr Verhofstadt very clearly agreed with us on. The biggest show in town, the biggest issue on this continent is Brexit. We need a strong voice to fight it.
“Our message, and notably that from Guy Verhofstadt was, if we want to protect our interests, if we want to stop a hard border and we want to shelter the people on this island from Brexit - we need the institutions back up and running.
“Anything less would be a historic, unforgivable abdication of responsibility.”