The next 48 hours are crucial for Northern Ireland in the Brexit negotiations, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has said.

The Sinn Fein leader was speaking as work continues to craft a border deal that will satisfy the EU, UK, Dublin and the DUP.

EU leaders have said there is a deadline of Sunday to find a solution after the DUP scuppered a proposed deal at the beginning of the week. Arlene Foster’s party baulked at a mention of regulatory alignment in the deal seeing it as separating Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said talks on the border could extend into the new year, while Nigel Dodds said negotiations would continue for as long as was necessary. It is understood a DUP delegation met Conservative officials on Thursday.

Stormont Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill said the DUP did not represent the majority view in Northern Ireland, where 56% voted Remain in last year’s referendum.

“They are consistently turning their face towards a hard border,” she said in Belfast.

“I have made that very clear to Theresa May.”

Her comments came as a Sinn Fein sponsored opinion poll suggested a clear majority of people in the region – 58% – are in favour of Northern Ireland retaining membership of the single market and customs union.

The Lucidtalk poll, commissioned by the European United Left – Nordic Green Left group in the European Parliament, also suggested that, in the event of a “no deal” hard Brexit, more people in Northern Ireland would prefer to join a united Ireland to maintain EU membership than stay in a UK outside the European Union (48% to 45%).

Mrs O’Neill said the region was facing a crucial “48 hours” and called on the Irish government to stand up for everyone on the island.

She said there could be no “roll back” on what was on the table on Monday, insisting protections to ensure a soft border should even be made stronger.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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