Arlene Foster NI Protocol comment 'dangerous' claims Alliance Party MP

Alliance Party MP, Stephen Farry, has described a comment made by DUP leader, Arlene Foster, on the make-up of a group of local business people who met with European Commission vice-president, Maroš Šefčovič, as "disappointing and dangerous".

Friday, 19th February 2021, 12:24 pm

Mrs. Foster made the remark during a Covid-19 briefing on Thursday evening when she was asked for her assessment of a meeting between business men and women from Northern Ireland and Mr. Šefčovič.

The meeting was organised by the EU-UK Joint Committee as a way for local businesses to communicate their experiences of the Northern Ireland Protocol since it became operational on January 1, 2021.

Vice-president Šefčovič said after the meeting had concluded that the European Commission was committed to "finding pragmatic solutions".

First Minister Arlene Foster pictured during a Covid-19 media briefing on Thursday evening. (Photo: PA Wire)

“Together with Michael Gove, (I am) committed to the proper implementation of Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol and finding pragmatic solutions.”

Mrs. Foster, who had not been fully briefed on the outcome of the meeting when answering the question said: "I am somewhat disappointed to hear of the make up of the civic society group that met today.

“There were one or two unionists on it," she said.

Alliance Party MP for North Down, Stephen Farry, responded to the comment tweeting: "This is a disappointing and dangerous comment from Arlene Foster," he said.

"Many people there were representing organisations.

"We need to be very careful about putting political labels on people."

A petition launched by Arlene Foster asking the government to to trigger Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol will be debated in Westminster on Monday after it received more than 140,000 signatures.

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