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Green Party launches General Election manifesto

Green Party leader Steven Agnew called for a second Brexit referendum. Credit: Presseye

The Green Party has launched its General Election manifesto with a pledge to hold a second referendum on any final Brexit deal.

The party, which is standing seven candidates in the 8 June poll, is also calling for a reform of public services and marriage equality.

Party leader Steven Agnew insists any deal agreed with Europe must be approved by the public.

He said: “The option to remain in the European Union must be left on the table.

"This would strengthen the hand of the UK negotiating team as well as allowing us to make an informed decision once the full facts on Brexit are available."

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DUP ‘dismisses dark money row as reheated story’

Sinn Féin has met with the Electoral Commission to discuss its concerns over a controversial Brexit donation of around £425,000 made to the DUP during last year's referendum campaign.

The money came from pro-Brexit group the Constitutional Research Council and more than half of it was spent on a double-page ad in the Metro newspaper, which is not published in Northern Ireland.

The CRC is chaired by Richard Cook, a businessman and a former vice chairman of the Scottish Conservatives.

However, there are concerns from the DUP’s political opponents that three donors associated with the CRC have not been named by the party.

The DUP has hit back saying that the row over the so-called ‘dark money’ is an attempt to reheat an old story.

As UTV Deputy Political Editor Tracey Magee reports, a spokesman for the Electoral Commission said it is not currently investigating the party.

Council rejects longer Sunday trading proposals

Protests against the move were held outside City Hall. Credit: UTV

Plans to extend Sunday trading hours have been defeated following a vote at Belfast City Council.

The council voted 12-3 against the move, with Sinn Féin, the DUP and SDLP all opposing it.

Protests were held by shop workers outside Belfast City Hall on Friday morning ahead of the meeting of the Strategic Policy & Resources Committee.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Retail NI welcomes the comprehensive vote by Belfast City councillors to drop plans to relax Sunday trading across the city.

"This would have given a further unfair competitive advantage to large supermarkets and disadvantaged local small shops, whose Sunday morning trade is vital for their survival."

Gordon McElroy, president of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said he was disappointed by the result.

"The chamber represents the entire business community of Belfast - from small independent retailers, coffee shops, bars and restaurants to large multi-nationals - and, with their absolute best interests at heart, we believe that extended Sunday trading would positively benefit trade in the city, which would have a cumulative effect across the whole of Northern Ireland.

"The chamber will continue to lobby for Belfast to be designated a holiday resort, which we believe will not only help attract additional visitors to the city, but provide life and vitality to our city for those who currently visit but are frustrated by the lack of business and attractions which are open on Sundays before 1pm."

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