May claims of soft border post-Brexit nonsensical, says O’Neill

Michelle O'Neill said Theresa May's 'aspirations for a friction-free Brexit did not mean anything in practice'

Michelle O'Neill said Theresa May's 'aspirations for a friction-free Brexit did not mean anything in practice'

UK hopes for a soft border on the island of Ireland after a hard Brexit are nonsensical, Sinn Fein has claimed.

The prime minister has called for “frictionless” cross-border trade and pledged no return to the frontiers of the past.

Sinn Fein’s new leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill met Theresa May on Monday but said she did not listen.

She claimed aspirations for a friction-free Brexit did not mean anything in practice and called for Northern Ireland to be accorded special status within the EU.

Mrs O’Neill said: “What we are very sure of is the implications of a hard Brexit are going to mean a hard border – a soft border is a nonsense.

“So the implications are severe.”

Republicans have pointed to the example of Greenland, which secured a special deal after it left the European Community in 1985 covering fisheries.

Mrs O’Neill told an event in Belfast: “We are not looking to recreate the wheel.

“This is something that has been done elsewhere.

“Other states have had opportunity to have special designated status. We are asking for the same.”