O’Toole challenges O’Neill on Sinn Féin’s ‘open borders’ dog whistle

matthew o'toole Border

SDLP Leader of the Opposition Matthew O’Toole MLA has challenged First Minister Michelle O’Neill after her party said they were “opposed to open borders”.

Mr O’Toole raised the issue during questions to the First Minister in the Assembly on Monday.

South Belfast MLA Mr O’Toole said:

"Sinn Féin’s stated opposition to ‘open borders’ has attracted widespread criticism from across this island. At a time when we have seen racism and hate speech on the rise it’s deeply troubling that a mainstream political party would engage in what is no more than a far-right dog whistle.

“I challenged the First Minister today to stand over her party’s comments, particularly given that our parties have spent years seeking to protect the open border on this island that was threatened during the Brexit process. I also stressed that any New Ireland must retain the most open of borders between these islands and put that at the heart of future relationships.

“In the first instance the Minister totally failed to answer my question and even then, could only offer up basic platitudes around what is a hugely important issue. These comments will have emboldened those who want to see a hard border on this island despite the harm that would cause to communities on both sides.

“The public deserve to know if the First Minister stands behind these comments from her party and if Sinn Féin are willing to say or do anything in an attempt to secure a few more votes ahead of upcoming elections.”

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