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Republic of Ireland being used as 'bargaining chip' by EU: Nigel Dodds

The European Union is using the Republic of Ireland as a "bargaining chip" in the Brexit negotiations, the DUP has claimed.

Nigel Dodds MP, deputy leader of the party, made the remarks after the visit of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to the Republic of Ireland.

He said: “Mr Juncker’s claim that 'Ireland is not alone' is false security for the country which would be most severely impacted by a no deal Brexit.  If Mr Juncker was really focused on helping Ireland, he would be encouraging the EU to focus on getting a post Brexit trade deal in place.

"The Republic of Ireland is being used a bargaining chip by the EU.  This is a selfish interest.  The United Kingdom is a crucial market for Republic of Ireland companies especially in the agri-food sector."

Mr Dodds said the plan put forward by Mr Juncker and Michel Barnier, to keep Northern Ireland in the single market, would cut the province off from its main market in Great Britain.

He added the plan was "disgraceful and offensive" to unionism in Northern Ireland.

"Rather than focus on backstop arrangements, Ireland would be better served by a sensible new trade deal which would work for the EU, the United Kingdom and importantly the Republic of Ireland," the north Belfast MP said.

Jean-Claude Juncker with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Juncker, during a visit to Dublin on Thursday, said there would be no Brexit deal without an agreement on the Irish border.

He said fellow EU member states would not let Ireland be "isolated" on the impasse over the border.

He added: "We want to make it clear again and again that Ireland is not alone.

"We have Ireland backed by 26 member states and the commission - this will not change.

"I am strongly against any temptation to isolate Ireland and not to conclude the deal on Ireland.

"Ireland has to be part of the deal."

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