The Brexit policies of the two candidates for UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, have come under heavy criticism at an Irish Congress of Trade Unions conference.

Addressing the ICTU Biennial conference in Dublin, Assistant General Secretary with responsibility for Northern Ireland, Owen Reidy, noted that Brexit would have a disproportionate impact on Northern Ireland.

He accused the two Tory candidates of "boasting, bragging and sticking out their chests saying they would make a success of Brexit" - and that they could achieve a new deal with the EU that would give them everything they wanted.

He described that position as nonsense and "parallel universe stuff".

Mr Reidy noted that  Congress had met with Chief EU Negotiator Michel Barnier on a number of occasions, and he had made it very clear that the Withdrawal Agreement is the exit deal whether the UK likes it or not.

He stressed that Congress was "full square" behind the backstop not for any political reason, but because it was in the interest of workers all over the island of Ireland.

Owen Reidy

He also said that Congress had met two secretaries of State for Northern Ireland "for what it was worth", describing that engagement as "poor".

He also described a "fleeting" meeting with Prime Minister Theresa May as being akin to "speed dating".

Mr Reidy also noted that 897 days had elapsed during which Northern Ireland had been without locally devolved government and that decisions delayed during that period had had a real and dramatic effect on members and their families.

He said that during that time of political stalemate, uncertainty and the looming crisis of Brexit, the Northern Ireland economy had limped along in a state of inertia and stagnation.

He added that most poignantly and tragically, there had been an increase in dissident republican activity leading to the murder of journalist and trade unionist Lyra McKee, who had described herself as a "peace process baby".

Mr Reidy said every worker on this island no matter what their job, nationality or creed had the right to work without threats of intimidation, and to return home of their families at night.

He told delegates that having a devolved functioning power sharing government was an essential element of a stable shared democracy - and there was an urgent need to return to real and meaningful power sharing, with a new programme for government putting the rights of workers to the fore.