SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said it was a “signal in the right direction” that Arlene Foster is now “effectively arguing for access to the single market and customs union”.
Mr Eastwood was speaking after the DUP leader addressed a Killarney Economic Conference.
He welcomed the “change of tone” in Mrs Foster’s remarks, adding: “While much of the content of the speech the SDLP could not agree with, the willingness of Mrs Foster to accept that her party will have to work on an all-island basis with our partners in the South to deal with the challenges of Brexit is a welcome step.
“In particular, the DUP Leader spoke of how she personally experienced the benefit of no border and again argued against a hard border in Ireland. This is significant - Mrs Foster is effectively arguing for access to the single market and customs union.
“The SDLP has long argued that only with access to the single market and customs union can we protect our interests on this island. But we have also argued that only with a local government to make decisions here on this island can we protect people here from the economic and socio-political disaster Brexit could bring.
“What the DUP leader has exposed is that there is some common ground. Political dialogue is needed here to explore that common ground, where there is room for compromise and if there is a way to move forward. Brexit is a basis for talks – we must now see willingness and generosity from all parties to engage in meaningful dialogue on all issues.”