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HomeLive StreamDeputy First Minister delivers snub to Boris Johnson during NI visit

Deputy First Minister delivers snub to Boris Johnson during NI visit

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Ms O’Neill refused to welcome the Prime Minister to Belfast on Friday in her Stormont role after a request for a meeting with Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald and herself was not accepted.

After he declined the political meeting, requested amid growing tensions over post-Brexit restrictions, Ms O’Neill, Sinn Fein’s deputy leader, refused to meet him at all.

However, Mr Johnson was to hold a meeting with First Minister and DUP leader Arlene Foster during a visit tied to the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He also joined Health Minister Robin Swann, the Ulster Unionist Party leader and Mrs Foster at a vaccine centre in Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen, which is in her Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency.

Bois Johnson visits Northern Ireland / PA Wire

Mrs Foster urged the Prime Minister to “stand up for Northern Ireland” and ditch the “intolerable” protocol governing Irish Sea trade post-Brexit, which has angered unionists who say it undermines the nation’s place in the UK.

In a statement, Ms O’Neill said: “Mary Lou McDonald and myself have a long-standing request to meet with the British Prime Minister to discuss a number of commitments which he and his Government have reneged on in the New Decade New Approach over this past year, and also his reckless and partisan approach to the Irish Protocol. He did not facilitate the meeting.

“I have no plans to meet with him today.”

Mr Johnson said he was willing to meet people all the time.

He added: “Alas, Michelle was otherwise engaged.

“I am always happy to meet all sides.”

Ms McDonald criticised the “most unfortunate” manner of the Prime Minister’s visit.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, she said: “I have to say that the manner in which this visit was planned and conducted was really most unfortunate.

“We have for some time now been seeking a meeting with Boris Johnson. We have very substantial and important matters to discuss with him.

“The British Government is in default in respect of key commitments that it has made.

“Unfortunately he has not facilitated that meeting.

“He did meet with the leader of the DUP, who suggested that we might cooperate in a photo-op in Belfast, but that was never going to happen.

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