NI politicians in Dublin for Brexit talks

A group of Northern Ireland politicians are meeting with the Taoiseach in Dublin to discuss the draft Brexit deal.

Sinn Fein’s leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill, SDLP leader Colm Eastwood, The Alliance Party’s Stephen Farry and Green Party leader Steven Agnew are attending a joint meeting with Mr Varadkar from 10am.

(left to right) SDLP Leader Colm Eastwood, Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Michelle O'Neill and Northern Ireland Green Party Leader Steven Agnew, arrive for a Brexit briefing with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings in Dublin. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

(left to right) SDLP Leader Colm Eastwood, Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Michelle O'Neill and Northern Ireland Green Party Leader Steven Agnew, arrive for a Brexit briefing with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Government Buildings in Dublin. Photo credit: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Outside Dublin’s government buildings, Mr Eastwood said that difficult days lay ahead for Prime Minister Theresa May, but the group’s focus was on Northern Ireland.

“We have to make sure the backstop is fully backed, and that’s what we’re focused on, protecting people across this island,” he said.

“I think people should take some time to read the full implications of what this will mean.”

Ms O’Neill said that the group in Dublin represented the majority of Northern Ireland on a cross-community basis.

“It’s a very fluid situation, and I think it’ll be a very interesting day.

“For us, we want to remain in the customs union and the single market and we want protections for the Good Friday Agreement, our message is as consistent today as it was yesterday.”

Mr Varadkar announced he would meet with the Northern Ireland parties on Wednesday night. However, the DUP and Ulster Unionist parties are not in attendance.

The Taoiseach added that he had not spoken to DUP leader Arlene Foster on Wednesday but said: “The door is always open and the phone is always on.”