David Davis does not ignore views of NI people: DUP

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has defended Brexit Secretary David Davis's decision to make an unannounced visit to the Irish border.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 3:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 3:56 pm
Brexit secretary David Davis pictured in south Armagh with Middletown Centre for Autism chief executive Gary Cooper
Brexit secretary David Davis pictured in south Armagh with Middletown Centre for Autism chief executive Gary Cooper

Mr Davis spent nearly two hours in Co Armagh on Monday, but the trip drew criticism from Sinn Fein because the area’s local MP was not informed.

Mickey Brady, MP for Newry and Armagh, accused Mr Davis of avoiding a meeting with him because he is “afraid to face the truth about Brexit”.

But DUP Brexit spokesperson Mr Wilson refuted suggestions that the nature of Mr Davis surprise visit showed he was not interested in the views of people in Northern Ireland regarding Brexit.

When asked on BBC’s Talkback show if the trip was “an example of the marginalisation of views” in the Province, the East Antrim MP: “Maybe it says more about his attitude towards those would try and disrupt his visit.

“I don’t know the reason why he came and left so quickly, but the one thing I do know is that he does not ignore the views of the people of Northern Ireland.

“I meet with Mr Davis and other ministers in the Brexit department on a regular basis.

“I don’t think me standing in a field on the border with him would have helped explain the border situation any more than me standing in his office with him.”

The Department for Exiting the European Union said not informing Sinn Fein MP Mr Brady was “an administrative oversight for which we are happy to apologise”.

The DUP were not given notice of the trip either but the Brexit department spokesperson said the Northern Ireland Office had been informed ahead of the visit.

Mr Brady’s party colleague, West Belfast MP Paul Maskey, said Mr Davis had shown “contempt” for local politicians and not followed protocol in arranging the visit.

Following the short trip, during which Mr Davis was escorted by former senior police officer and Cooperation Ireland chief executive Peter Sheridan, he reiterated the Government’s determination to avoid a hard border on the island.

Mr Davis tweeted: “As we leave the EU it’s essential both the UK and EU do what it takes to keep the border, which I saw this morning, free from physical infrastructure.

“We are determined to get this agreed by October.”

As part of the trip Mr Davis visited an autism centre in Middletown in Co Armagh as well as a nearby food processing company.

The Brexit Secretary also saw a former customs post between counties Armagh and Monaghan.