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Naomi Long condemns ‘chilling’ warning that Irish ministers ‘not welcome’

The Loyalist Communities Council said Irish Government ministers would not be welcome as difficulties over the Northern Ireland Protocol remain.

Stormont Justice Minister, Naomi Long
Stormont Justice Minister, Naomi Long
Image: PA

THE STORMONT JUSTICE Minister has slammed a “chilling” warning that Irish ministers are not welcome in Northern Ireland.

The Loyalist Communities Council (LCC), a group representing loyalist paramilitary organisations, said Irish Government ministers and officials would not be welcome as long as difficulties over the Northern Ireland Protocol remain.

The LCC also warned in a statement last week that the Irish Government would be unwelcome in the region until they “repair the damage they have created”.

Speaking in the Stormont Assembly today, Justice Minister Naomi Long said the comments “create a chilling and unhelpful atmosphere”.

“I think that such threats, however thinly veiled, have no place in Northern Ireland and never have had,” she told MLAs.

“I think it is important that we recognise that Irish Government ministers have an important role to play in terms of us being able to co-operate and work together on an all-island basis to deliver better for people across this island and indeed throughout these islands.

“It is frankly, to me, remarkable that an unelected group would dare to suggest that elected representatives, either from this jurisdiction or any other, are unwelcome here.

“The only thing that is unwelcome in Northern Ireland is continued paramilitary influence in our communities.”

Last week Tánaiste Leo Varadkar rejected the LCC’s statement.

“With the greatest respect to them, I don’t think the Loyalist Community Council decides who’s welcome in Northern Ireland and who isn’t,” he said.

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“I’ve always felt welcome in Northern Ireland, I was there last week, in Co Fermanagh and I felt very welcome.

“Irish Government ministers will continue to travel to Northern Ireland to engage with people from all backgrounds.

“We’re always willing to engage with anyone who’s willing to engage with us and that’s going to continue.”

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