DUP’s Sammy Wilson regrets calling Leo Varadkar a ‘nutcase’

Unionist MP says he believes Taoiseach’s stance in Brexit talks could ‘destroy Ireland’

DUP MP Sammy Wilson (right) was reported as describing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) as a ‘nutcase’. Photographs: AFP/Getty Images.

DUP MP Sammy Wilson (right) was reported as describing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) as a ‘nutcase’. Photographs: AFP/Getty Images.

 

A Democratic Unionist Party politician has said he regrets calling Taoiseach Leo Varadkar a “nutcase”.

Sammy Wilson MP, the DUP’s Brexit spokesman in Westminster, also said Mr Varadkar was “naive, inexperienced and arrogant” for siding with the European Union during the Brexit talks.

Speaking to politico.eu after the Taoiseach’s speech on the future of the EU in the European Parliament on Wednesday, Mr Wilson claimed there had been a change in tone from Dublin since Mr Varadkar replaced Enda Kenny last year.

“It was always our view at the very start of this process that the biggest ally we would have when it came to negotiating with the European Union was Dublin, and indeed that always was the impression we got when Enda Kenny was in power, but since this nutcase Varadkar has taken over that things have all changed,” Mr Wilson said.

Mr Wilson on Thursday told the Belfast Telegraph that he regretted his choice of language when speaking about Mr Varadkar. However, he also said the Taoiseach’s approach will “eventually destroy Ireland”.

Simon Hamilton, Mr Wilson’s DUP colleague, said the East Antrim MP was “never shy about telling you what he thinks.

“On this occasion he used language which he accepts was wrong and he regrets the language that was used and I think he has already expressed publicly his regret at using the language that he did,” he said. “We look forward to engaging with the Irish Government as part of these talks on issues that are pertinent and relevant to Irish government.”

Powersharing

Tánaiste Simon Coveney on Thursday said he looked forward to having discussions with the DUP next week as part of a renewed effort to restore powersharing after a year of stalemate at Stormont. He said he did not have any reaction to Mr Wilson’s comment about the Taoiseach.

In recent months there has been a deterioration in the relationship between the Government and the DUP over Brexit, the prospect of Irish unity and other matters.

Mr Coveney said it was necessary for the Government to have a good relationship with the DUP. “As an Irish Government we need to have a good relationship with the largest political party in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“We need to respect the difference of views on many things but also we need to work in a pragmatic way to improve peoples lives on the island of Ireland as a whole and I think we have shown in the past that we can do that in many areas of practical cooperation in terms of north south cooperation.”

Mr Coveney said DUP leader Arlene Foster had made some very “constructive comments in relation to looking for practical solutions to some of the challenges that the island of Ireland and indeed Ireland and Britain face.”