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Senior Northern Ireland politicians meeting Taoiseach for Brexit talks

(left to right) Northern Ireland Green Party Leader Steven Agnew, Alliance Party Deputy Leader Stephen Farry, SDLP Leader Colm Eastwood and Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Michelle O'Neill, leaving Government Buildings in Dublin, following a Brexit briefing with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday November 15, 2018. See PA story POLITICS Brexit Ulster. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson/PA Wire

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

A group of Northern Ireland politicians are meeting with the Taoiseach in Dublin to discuss the draft Brexit deal.

Sinn Fein's leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill, SDLP leader Colm Eastwood, The Alliance Party's Stephen Farry and Green Party leader Steven Agnew are attending a joint meeting with Mr Varadkar from 10am.

Outside Dublin's government buildings, Mr Eastwood said that difficult days lay ahead for Prime Minister Theresa May, but the group's focus was on Northern Ireland.

"We have to make sure the backstop is fully backed, and that's what we're focused on, protecting people across this island," he said.

"I think people should take some time to read the full implications of what this will mean."

Ms O'Neill said that the group in Dublin represented the majority of Northern Ireland on a cross-community basis.

"It's a very fluid situation, and I think it'll be a very interesting day.

"For us, we want to remain in the customs union and the single market and we want protections for the Good Friday Agreement, our message is as consistent today as it was yesterday."

Mr Varadkar announced he would meet with the Northern Ireland parties on Wednesday night. However, the DUP and Ulster Unionist parties are not in attendance.

The Taoiseach added that he had not spoken to DUP leader Arlene Foster on Wednesday but said: "The door is always open and the phone is always on."

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