Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has expressed frustration with the comments of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire, who earlier today stated that there would be no special status for Northern Ireland, during a Westminster debate on triggering Article 50.

Mr Brokenshire’s comments came while agreeing with a number of points made by the DUP’s Sammy Wilson and just 48 hours after the British Prime Minister met with the Taoiseach in Dublin.

Deputy Martin commented, “These latest comments from Mr Brokenshire are a source of concern. The point has been made repeatedly that the unique circumstances in Northern Ireland, along with the fact that the region voted strongly to remain within the European Union, means that there does need to be special arrangements put in place.

“Indeed, just 48 hours ago, Prime Minister Theresa May made supportive noises while in Dublin, acknowledging Northern Ireland’s special position and pledging that there should be no return to the borders of the past.

“While we have been critical of the complete lack of detail on how this can be accommodated, we have been encouraged that the British Government at least appeared to accept the core analysis.

“It is therefore frustrating to read that the Northern Ireland Secretary of State appears to be taking a step backwards and is mirroring the language of the DUP.  As I have said while criticising the cynical manoeuvring of Sinn Féin in the context of Brexit, the focus now should be on mitigating the very real and very serious risks facing Northern Ireland rather than seeking to use the issue to advance other larger constitutional arguments.

“Brexit is going to take a greater social and economic toll on Northern Ireland than it will anywhere in Britain.  Given the fact that this will take place against the express wishes of the people of Northern Ireland, we need to see a much more constructive approach from the Secretary of State,” concluded Martin.