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Alex Kane: 'Northern Ireland plc took its Brexit case to Downing Street because there was no one at home on the Hill' 

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For six months after the EU referendum, it looked as though the political parties - particularly the DUP and Sinn Fein - would be able to reach consensus on a soft-landing approach to Brexit.

In August 2016, Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster wrote to Theresa May: "We are reassured by your commitment that we will be fully involved and represented in the negotiations on the terms of our future relationships with the EU and other countries. We regard this as a fundamental prerequisite of a meaningful negotiation process."

In November 2016, they penned a joint article for the local media: "It's hardly a secret that our two parties come from very different places and have very different ideologies. However, that should not and will not stop us working together on day-to-day, bread-and-butter issues. Brexit is a case in point. Our parties have opposing standpoints on this important issue. That hasn't prevented us agreeing a practical way forward as Executive ministers - identifying the key priorities as the negotiations unfold."

Broadly speaking, that was good enough for local business, manufacturing, retail, tourism, construction and farming organisations here. They were confident that their concerns and interests would be listened to by the Executive and represented at all levels of negotiation before and after Article 50 was triggered.

They were similarly confident that the Executive would speak with one voice and that the DUP and Sinn Fein would be prepared to compromise for the collective common good in Northern Ireland.

But that confidence collapsed along with the collapse of the Executive and Assembly just a few months later, in January 2017.

And, once........

© Belfast Telegraph