This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 2 July, 2020
Advertisement

Arlene Foster says she fears Brexit trade talks ‘are not going particularly well’

The NI First Minister said she wants to see a trade deal agreed.

File image of NI First Minister Arlene Foster.
File image of NI First Minister Arlene Foster.
Image: PA Images

THE FIRST MINISTER of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, has voiced her concern that the Brexit negotiations “don’t appear to be going particularly well”.

With just months to go until the extension period runs out at the end of the year, Arlene Foster said she wants to see a trade deal agreed.

“We need to make sure that both sides understand that it’s to both sides benefit, and that’s something I think the European Union often didn’t get in the negotiations from 2016 onwards,” she told the BBC Radio 4’s Political Thinking With Nick Robinson podcast.

“And for both our sakes, I hope that we do get to a situation where we get a deal because that’s what we need in Northern Ireland.”

Foster pledged to work to keep post-Brexit checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea minimal.

“In term of Northern Ireland to Great Britain, unfettered access has very much been stated again in the command paper. I suppose the concern we are focused on is the transport of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland because the whole issue is about the risk of those goods going into the Republic of Ireland and into the single market,” she said.

We would say that is a very minimal risk when you look at the size of the single market of the European Union, so it’s very important that we continue to work with the UK government in making sure those are minimal checks.

“Of course we have had checks for many years in terms of live animals, SPS checks, to make sure there is no disease coming into the island of Ireland and those will continue but we need to make sure the rest of the administrative checks are kept to a minimal.”

Foster insisted she has a very good relationship with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

embedded243876192 Boris Johnson and Arlene Foster. Source: PA Images

“But we have to make sure we protect Northern Ireland. He knows that,” she said.

Asked if she worried about the impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland’s place in the UK, Foster said she thinks most would prefer to remain in the UK.

“After this crisis abates we will see the impact that being part of the European Union will have on the Republic of Ireland. They have borrowed very heavily in terms of what they have been able to do over Covid so the implications of that will come home,” she said.

“In the past the Republic of Ireland was a gainer of being part of the European Union, they were always getting money for roads and all of those kind of things that has brought the Republic of Ireland up to be a modern democratic state.

“They are now net contributors to the European Union and that will have an impact.

“But we have a very good relationship with our neighbours, I think that that is a mature way to be.”

Turning to the pandemic, Foster said she hopes to be in a position by the end of the summer “where things are moving in the right direction and we are coming out” of lockdown.

#Open journalism No news is bad news Support The Journal

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support us now

“I suppose the worry then is, and the worry for us all, is the threat of a second wave of the pandemic, and that will be devastating if we don’t manage that because of course the economy is the main concern there,” she said.

embedded249571309 Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill. Source: PA Images

She said that she and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill found the shared experience of both their mothers being ill “brought out their humanity”.

“Neither of our mothers thankfully had Covid-19, but both were admitted in or around the same time bizarrely, and so as well as dealing with everything that we have to deal with in government, we have to deal with the pressure of our mothers being in hospital … that of course brings out the humanity in both of us,” she said.

Foster said she has had moments when she wonders if the right thing is being done with regards to the pandemic after introducing strict social distancing measures, which she described as “some of the most draconian steps that have ever been taken in this country since World War Two”.

“It’s a huge responsibility so of course we have those moments, I have those moments, when you think about are you doing the right thing and you do lean heavily on our medical advisers at this time and then try to take the decisions based on what they tell us,” she said.

“And I’m pleased to say that in terms of the number of deaths in Northern Ireland, we have managed to keep them as low as we possibly could and that has worked well.”

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Press Association

Read next:

COMMENTS (21)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel