Brexit: DUP rails against ‘aggressive’ Border stance by Dublin

Government harming Anglo-Irish relations with all island customs solution, says Dodds

The DUP has called for a sensible Brexit as it accused the Irish Government of damaging Anglo-Irish relations over an "aggressive stance" on the Border.

Ahead of British prime minister Theresa May's meeting with EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday DUP deputy leader and Westminster leader Nigel Dodds told BBC Radio 5 Live on Sunday he was "not convinced" this was the fixed deadline for written assurances on avoiding a hard Border.

Mr Dodds said the UK has to leave the EU as one country, that the 1998 Belfast Agreement only referenced the EU in passing, and that co-operation North and South and between the political parties in Northern Ireland can continue. He claimed “Brexit need not in any way upset any of that”.

An all-island customs solution, suggested by the Government, would “force Northern Ireland more and more . . . further and further away” from its main markets in the UK and more reliant on the EU.


He said since Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney have headed the Government they have adopted a much more “aggressive stance” than their predecessors.

He said they want to dismiss technological, digital solutions that would prevent a hard Border.

Mr Dodds suggested Mr Coveney, when speaking about representing the interests of Irish citizens North and South, was causing damage.

“What he is doing is causing real damage to Anglo-Irish relations,” he said. “Real damage to the institutions set up under the Belfast Agreement and St Andrews Agreement. And he has got to realise the way forward is through good cooperation, but that he can’t impose what is a solution for the Irish Republic on the rest of us and damage the economic relationship between Northern Ireland and our biggest markets.”

Mr Dodds believes the economy would suffer through proposals advanced by Mr Coveney “and quite frankly that will not happen”.

On Thursday, DUP MP Sammy Wilson said any attempt to “placate Dublin and the EU” could mean a withdrawal of DUP support for the Tory government at Westminster.

“The DUP doesn’t need to issue any threats whatsoever, because we’re very, very clear that the government understands that anything that would results in the political undermining of the union, the economic undermining of Northern Ireland’s economy, anything involving convergence or regulations that would gradually divorce our economy from the United Kingdom and move us closer to having to follow the rules of Europe we wouldn’t go with that and neither would the government,” said Mr Dodds.

Speaking to the DUP’s Lagan Valley Association on Saturday evening, party leader Arlene Foster said she wants a “sensible Brexit” that works for the whole of the UK.

She said this means continuation of the Common Travel Area, meeting financial obligations, valuing the contribution that EU migrants make to the economy and society and support for “a new Border policy that is strong but practical”.

Ms Foster believes a sensible Brexit will involve a comprehensive trade and customs agreement between the UK and EU, but what is “not sensible is proposing isolating Northern Ireland from its largest market”.