Tuesday 21 January 2020

DUP leader Arlene Foster calls for bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland

DUP leader Arlene Foster speaks before an Orange Order march in Cowdenbeath Photo: David Cheskin/PA Wire
DUP leader Arlene Foster speaks before an Orange Order march in Cowdenbeath Photo: David Cheskin/PA Wire

Lynsey Bews

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster has called on Scots to back proposals to build a bridge to Northern Ireland.

Mrs Foster said there was "growing support" for the idea as she addressed an Orange parade in Fife.

She was the main speaker at the Cowdenbeath event, organised by the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.

The DUP proposed a feasibility study into building a bridge to Scotland in 2015.

"The connection between our two countries has always been special," she said.

"What better way to cement that relationship than through a bridge?

"Amongst all the nasty and abusive comments made about the Orange wouldn't it be great to become an actual bridge builder between Northern Ireland and Scotland?

"Whilst some foolishly attempt to use Brexit to build a border between Scotland and Northern Ireland, we are more progressive, we want to build a bridge."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "We are keen to explore all potential opportunities for improving Scotland's transport links, but as with all proposed infrastructure investment, decisions would need to be founded on a robust business case."

Speaking before the event, Mrs Foster made a plea for certainty on Brexit.

"I think most people want to see that now. We're two years after the referendum," she said.

"It's important that we get that certainty soon.

"It takes two to tango and we need the European Union to step up to the plate and to recognise that Brexit is happening, so let's make it a good Brexit for us, and a good Brexit for the European Union as well."

Earlier this month, Labour and the Liberal Democrats in Scotland criticised Mrs Foster's decision to attend the parade, stating her time would be better spent in Northern Ireland, where there is no devolved government in place following its collapse more than a year ago.

The DUP leader - who addressed the parade but did not participate in the march through Cowdenbeath - said: "I am the last in a long line of unionist leaders coming along here.

"I am not really sure why people would object to me coming here today. This is my culture actually, this is who I am."

Police Scotland said the march was attended by around 4,000 people, with no significant incidents reported.

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