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Brexit: DUP's Dodds lashes out over call for Northern Ireland to remain in customs union

By David Young, PA

DUP MEP Diane Dodds last night attacked the call by the Republic of Ireland's European Commissioner for the UK or Northern Ireland to stay within the customs union or the single market post-Brexit.

Writing in the Observer, Phil Hogan said that such an arrangement would mean that there was no border issue.

And he said he was amazed at the "blind faith" some in London had in "theoretical future trade agreements".

But responding, Mrs Dodds said: "It is extraordinary that a European Commissioner should choose to comment on the internal affairs of a current member state in this particular way.

"This weekend at our party conference it was made quite clear from our leader that 'Northern Ireland's Brexit solution will be the United Kingdom's Brexit solution'.

"We will not allow a situation where Northern Ireland's interests are damaged by the need for customs controls with Great Britain at the behest of the EU or the Republic of Ireland.

"This would be constitutionally unacceptable and economically catastrophic for the local economy."

Earlier, DUP leader Arlene Foster accused Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney of "aggressive" behaviour on Northern Ireland.

Addressing the Oireachtas committee on the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement last Thursday, Mr Coveney told members: "I am a constitutional nationalist, I would like to see a united Ireland in my lifetime. If possible, in my political lifetime."

In an interview with RTE, Mrs Foster reiterated her "regret" at the Irish government's position.

But she directed specific criticism at Mr Coveney when challenged about whether the administration's stance on Brexit was motivated by a desire for Irish unity.

"Why then did Simon use this moment in time to talk about his aspiration for a united Ireland in his political lifetime?" she asked. "I think that's quite aggressive."

Mrs Foster accused Fine Gael's relatively new leaders of megaphone diplomacy.

"Some of the rhetoric coming from Dublin recently has been of a nature that actually could bring about self-harm to the Republic," she said.

"What we should be doing is actually working together to find a way forward, but since this administration came into office, since Leo took over, and Simon became the foreign minister, there hasn't been that same engagement that we had with (ex-Taoiseach) Enda (Kenny) and (former Foreign Minister) Charlie (Flanagan). And I regret that because I think we should be working together because we are on this island."

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