Belfast Telegraph

Donaldson warns Taoiseach over 'megaphone diplomacy'

The DUP's Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has warned Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over "megaphone diplomacy" in relation to the Republic's Brexit stance.

This comes as the relationship between the unionist party and the Irish government is becoming increasingly frayed ahead of a visit by Taoiseach Varadkar on Friday.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme, the Lagan Valley MP was responding to comments from Fine Gael senator and chair of the Oireachtas Brexit Committee Neale Richmond that 14 months after the decision to leave the EU, there had been "absolutely no headway from the DUP, or indeed the entire Brexit side when it comes to dealing with the key issues that are facing the people of our island".

Last week Taoiseach Varadkar said that he "would not design a border for Brexiteers", while Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney had to quash earlier speculation that there had been a proposal from his government for a sea border between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

"The question of the border has been put very high on the agenda. But in the end, you can’t design a solution until you’ve got agreement on what that solution should be," Mr Donaldson said.

"And so I reject entirely what the Senator has said, I don’t think it’s helpful. I think he and Fine Gael need to to take a step back here.

"What we don’t do and what won’t solve the problem is megaphone diplomacy from Dublin and I think the Taoiseach needs to recognise that going back to the policies of the 1970s and 1980s in Anglo-Irish relations isn’t going to help anyone."

He added that his party continued to hold the view that Britain would prosper outside to the European Union, and that he welcomed Mr Conveney's clarification on the sea border.

Ahead of the visit by Taoiseach Varadkar this Friday there has been growing speculation that he may stay overnight and attend the Belfast Pride parade taking place in the city the following day.

Asked by Good Morning Ulster host Noel Thompson if he would cheer on the Taoiseach, Mr Donaldson initially said he would be out of the country.

Pushed by host Noel Thompson about whether would support him "on principle", Donaldson said: "The Taoiseach has to decide what he is going to do. We haven’t heard that he is going to attend this particular parade.

"And you know it depends on what he wants to try and achieve with this. In the end Northern Ireland is a separate jurisdiction, decisions about the law in Northern Ireland are made by the Executive, and what we are focused on are not parades in Belfast, it’s on getting the Executive up and running. "

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