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McDonald: No 'return to armed actions' in event of no-deal Brexit

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has declared there will be no “return to armed actions” in the event of a 'no-deal' Brexit, as several parties blasted government preparations for Britain's EU exit.

Frustration is growing among the Opposition over the lack of clarity about what will happen to the border if Britain crashes out of the EU. Proposed aid for firms is also inadequate, parties argue.

Fianna Fáil, Labour and Sinn Féin all want answers as to what exactly is plan B if there is a no deal for the border and maintaining the EU's customs union for trade. A proposed €200m 'soft' financial package for SMEs and workers also falls short of what will be needed to protect firms, they say.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was asked by the Irish Examiner whether republicans would take up arms if Britain crashes out and there is a threat of a new border.

She responded: “There is no circumstances, no excuse, no scenario in which anybody from any disposition anywhere across this island would have a justifiable cause to take up arms.

There is no appetite for a return to armed actions anywhere across this island in any community in the North of Ireland and in fact people have embraced a new reality right across our country which is one of relative stability and advancement and progress.

Ms McDonald also called on the government to take responsibility for peace on the island, adding:

“Part of ensuring stability across the island is being politically truthful about where we are at. And where we are at is the potential of a crash Brexit, the potential of a hardening of the border and the absolute need to respond to that to make sure that we don't see damage to the Good Friday Agreement.”

The Opposition leader said that in the long run the ultimate 'backstop' for the island of Ireland was the removal of the border. But armed action was out of the question, she insisted:

“There is no, under any circumstances, any explanation or no cover should be given to anybody who pursues actions of aggression or violence. That is off the table. People have made their view very clear on that.”

She criticised the Government for failing to support a border poll which in a democratic and peaceful way would lay the “steps” towards a removal of the border

Meanwhile, Ms McDonald said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was overly relaxed when it came to no-deal planning.

"We heard An Taoiseach in the course of the weekend almost philosophically say that where as Brexit might define Britain for a generation that it doesn't have to define us," she said.

"I think it's a very worrying statement. I think it belies an overly relaxed attitude by An Taoiseach."

Ms McDonald has also described the DUP's approach to Brexit as "absolutely reckless and dangerous".

"You can't have part of the island inside the European Union and the other part outside of the European Union and imagine that there won't be huge consequences for trade and our economy but also, critically, for the enjoyment of rights by our citizens and for the smooth operation of the Good Friday Agreement," she said.

Ms McDonald added: "They are very much out of step with public opinion in the north. I think they're very well aware of that and yet they are quite content to play very, very dangerous games with their friends in the Tory Party."

- additional reporting by Press Association