Belfast Telegraph

DUP £1bn deal 'very bad for Northern Ireland', says former Lib Dem leader Ashdown

The former leader of the Liberal Democrats Lord Paddy Ashdown has described the DUP's £1bn confidence and supply agreement with the Conservative government as "very bad" for Northern Ireland.

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Ulster programme, the Northern Irish politician said: "It's very bad for the Conservatives in my view. And very bad for - well the DUP will have to make up their own mind whether it’s good or bad for them - but for Northern Ireland I think that it’s very bad."

"I’m a Northern Irishman. I was brought up in Northern Ireland and I am very proud of that. I fought on the streets of Belfast against it. I know perfectly well that until Northern Ireland has completed its journey - it’s nearly there - to wash sectarianism out of its politics, this is not safe.

"I don’t believe that we will ever return to violence in Northern Ireland, not on a wide scale anyway. But I do believe that getting engaged in the politics of Westminster in a way that can only reflect on greater sectarianism in Westminster politics is not a helpful thing."

Lord Ashdown led the Liberal Democrats for 11 years between 1988 and 1999 and spent his childhood in Co Down.

He served as a Member of Parliament for Yeovil from 1983 until 2001, when he was appointed to the House of Lords.

During the interview he also defended the Liberal Democrat's continued opposition to Brexit, saying that his party "respected" the vote, but that it did not mean "in any way that we do not go on believing that being in Europe is right".

A crowdfunded legal challenge against the deal between the Conservative Party and the DUP has been brought by Northern Irish Green Party activist Ciaran McClean. The case is being taken on the grounds that any deal between the Conservatives and the DUP is in breach of the Good Friday Agreement.

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