Ireland will NOT be used as a pawn! Sinn Fein fumes at UK ‘brinkmanship’ in Brexit row

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Speaking to reporters in Dublin, the Sinn Fein leader said she would meet the Prime Minister on Monday as she accused Mr Johnson of “using Ireland” in his Brexit negotiations with the EU. She said: “Boris Johnson can’t play games with the people on the island of Ireland.

“He has connived with the DUP to use Ireland, the north of Ireland, to use unionism in Ireland as a pawn in a wider game that is being played out with the European Union.

“That is clearly a shameful tactic and approach and it’s one that is absolutely not acceptable.

“We’ll meet Boris Johnson on Monday in the North and I know that Michelle, as First Minister I hope, we hope, will meet with the Taoiseach in the coming week.”

She added: “The British Government have assisted the DUP in blocking tactics and this needs to stop.

“Certainly when we meet Mr Johnson on Monday we will make that clear to him.”

Asked about the UK Government’s threats to the EU to scrap the Brexit Protocol, she added: “We’ve been here before. The British Government threw out the process of Brexit and the negotiations and the ratification of the protocol.

“They have not acted in good faith, they have consistently threatened to act and have acted unilaterally.

“Let’s just be clear, the protocol is going nowhere, the protocol is a necessary outworking of Brexit, for which the Tory Party and the DUP campaigned.

“The British Government cannot use Ireland as a pawn, we won’t be the collateral damage in the Brexit negotiations.”

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Mr Johnson is set to visit Northern Ireland on Monday amid a political crisis caused by the DUP blocking the election of a Speaker at Stormont, Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill has said.

The DUP leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, has insisted he is sending a “clear message” to the EU and the UK Government about resolving issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

But Ms O’Neill accused the unionist party of “punishing the electorate” while Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said it had been a “shameful day” for the DUP.

The failure to elect a Speaker leaves the Stormont Assembly unable to function.

The 90 MLAs met for the first time in the Stormont chamber on Friday after last week’s Northern Ireland Assembly election saw Sinn Fein emerge as the largest party for the first time.

The first order of business was for MLAs to sign the roll of membership before an attempt was made to elect a Speaker. Two candidates, Mike Nesbitt of the UUP, and Patsy McGlone, of the SDLP, were nominated but did not receive the necessary support.

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The DUP is also refusing to nominate for the position of deputy first minister, which prevents the forming of a new executive, as part of its protest against the protocol.

Unionists oppose the post-Brexit treaty because of the economic barriers it creates between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Sinn Fein Stormont leader Ms O’Neill said the DUP has “punished the electorate” by boycotting the election of a speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, and that “the public deserve better”.

Speaking to reporters in the Great Hall after the Assembly was adjourned, Ms O’Neill said the DUP’s action to boycott the election of an Assembly speaker “isn’t tolerable, it isn’t acceptable, it isn’t good enough”.

Ms O’Neill also announced that Sinn Fein MLA for Upper Bann John O’Dowd would be taking up the role of Infrastructure Minister in a caretaker capacity, after the former minister Nichola Mallon of the SDLP lost her seat in last week’s election.

She also confirmed that the Prime Minister would be visiting Northern Ireland on Monday.

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