Arlene Foster accuses Irish Government of riding roughshod over unionism

DUP leader reacts angrily to Dublin reaction to Boris Brexit plan

DUP leader Arlene Foster speaking to media outside Belfast City airport. She said the UK’s new Brexit proposals would ensure that Northern Ireland could not be “trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU”. Photograph: David Young/PA Wire

DUP leader Arlene Foster speaking to media outside Belfast City airport. She said the UK’s new Brexit proposals would ensure that Northern Ireland could not be “trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU”. Photograph: David Young/PA Wire

 

The DUP has reacted angrily to concerns raised by the Irish Government about the role for Stormont in the new British proposals on Brexit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster accused Dublin of trying to ride roughshod over unionism, as she criticised its concerns about the UK’s latest Brexit plan. Ms Foster said the new proposals would ensure that Northern Ireland could not be “trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU”.

Both Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney raised questions on Thursday about the proposals by the British government to require Stormont’s consent on any differences between the North and the rest of the UK. The plans were outlined in a document sent by British prime minister Boris Johnson to Brussels on Widened.

The Irish Government is concerned that the proposals would enable the DUP to use blocking mechanisms intended to ensure cross-community consent for legislation as a veto on single market membership.

‘Intransigent’

Mrs Foster was particularly critical of Mr Coveney, accusing him of rejecting a reasonable offer and raising the chances of a no-deal exit. “Simon Coveney’s remarks are deeply unhelpful, obstructionist and intransigent,” she said in a statement. “The Irish Government’s majoritarian desire to ride roughshod over unionism was one of the reasons why the Withdrawal Agreement was rejected.

“Mr Coveney’s rejection of a reasonable offer is paving the road for a no-deal exit because unionism will not allow Northern Ireland to be trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU. We will not buy that,” she said. “The Irish Government’s preparedness to dump the consent principle for their country’s expediency is foolish in the extreme and sends a very clear message to unionists.

Ramping up rhetoric

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds joined her criticisms, singling out the Taoiseach for what he said was his “incendiary” comments and “intransigent” approach. “The incendiary and outrageous comments by Leo Varadkar and his foreign minister are a clear ramping up of rhetoric designed to derail any realistic prospect of a deal,” Mr Dodds said.

“The flippant Dublin reaction to the prime minister’s proposals has also exposed the reality that the Irish government would never have consented to the United Kingdom leaving the backstop if it had been implemented.

“Our message to Leo is simple. He should reflect on his comments and his intransigent approach. He is destined to go down in history as the Taoiseach who restored a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland because his friends in Brussels will insist on it.”