Conor Murphy: DUP knows Brexit is economic disaster for island of Ireland

Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy, surrounded by party colleagues, talking to media in Parliament Buildings, Stormont. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 31, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Politics. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire
Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy, surrounded by party colleagues, talking to media in Parliament Buildings, Stormont. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday July 31, 2017. See PA story ULSTER Politics. Photo credit should read: David Young/PA Wire

The DUP privately acknowledges that Brexit will be an economic disaster for the island of Ireland, a senior Sinn Fein member has claimed.

Conor Murphy suggested the DUP’s public pro-Brexit stance was very different to its behind-closed-doors view as he commented on recent terse exchanges between the main unionist party and Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party.

Mr Murphy welcomed recent comments made by Mr Varadkar in relation to his opposition to any sort of economic border on the island post-Brexit and he concurred with the assessment of Fine Gael senator Neale Richmond that subsequent DUP criticism of the Irish premier was “whinging”.

“The reality is the DUP have been acting against the wishes of the majority of people here in relation to their approach to Brexit,” said the Sinn Fein Stormont Assembly member.

“They have now given the British government a blank cheque in terms of signing up to support any Brexit legislation that is brought forward.

“They can hardly then complain when those who will be disastrously impacted on by Brexit then call that out for what it is, who present issues as they are likely to arise.

“Quite clearly the Irish government and the Taoiseach have to defend the interests of the Irish people and we look to them to defend the interests of Irish citizens who live in this part of Ireland as well.

“So the DUP can hardly criticise others when they are acting against the interests and wishes of the vast majority of people on this island.”

Asked for his reaction to Mr Varadkar’s remark that he hoped Brexit could still be averted, Mr Murphy added: “I would hope that Brexit wouldn’t happen either, but that’s a matter for the British government and the British state and the people who live there.

“The reality is we recognise, as does everyone, including the DUP privately, that Brexit is going to be an economic disaster for the island of Ireland.”

Mr Murphy said he welcomed the fact Mr Varadkar’s administration recognised the “disaster which is looming for us in terms of Brexit”.

He added: “I wouldn’t expect them to be anything else but robust in defence of the Irish people in that regard.

“So the statements have been welcome of course, but that’s what you would expect from the political leaders of a country that is going to be so badly impacted by a decision which was taken in London in the interests of the English people and not in the interests of the people of Ireland, who quite clearly in this part of Ireland voted significantly not to leave Europe.”

The DUP rubbished Mr Murphy’s claim that it harboured private concerns about Brexit’s economic impact.

A DUP spokeswoman said: “Mr Murphy and Sinn Fein have now entered fantasy land by inventing DUP positions.

“Mr Murphy should be focused on giving Northern Ireland a voice in Brexit negotiations given the current impasse at Stormont with Sinn Fein’s long list of demands.

“By getting a functioning Executive up and running, Northern Ireland can make the case for a good deal as the UK exits the European Union.

“Sinn Fein are using classic scaremongering tactics with little basis of fact or substance.

“The DUP are the best placed with their seats in Westminster to speak out on the needs of Northern Ireland.

“The reality is the UK is leaving the EU. A common sense approach is needed rather than the petty politicking seen here by Conor Murphy who still fails to accept the EU referendum vote.”