Belfast Telegraph

DUP leader criticises Dublin’s rejection of UK’s latest Brexit plan

Arlene Foster accused Simon Coveney of rejecting a reasonable offer and paving the road for a no-deal exit.

DUP leader Arlene Foster (Niall Carson/PA)
DUP leader Arlene Foster (Niall Carson/PA)

By David Young, PA

The DUP leader has accused the Irish Government of trying to ride roughshod over unionism, as she criticised Dublin’s rejection of the UK’s latest Brexit plan.

Arlene Foster’s comments came after Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and deputy premier Simon Coveney both voiced opposition to the proposals.

Both men expressed concern at the suggestion of letting Stormont decide whether to opt in to the proposed all-island regulatory zone post-Brexit.

Stormont voting mechanisms allow a bloc of either unionist or nationalist Assembly members to block a decision, even if the majority vote for it.

Ms Foster said the proposals would ensure that Northern Ireland could not be “trapped at the whim of Dublin or the EU”.

She was particularly critical of Mr Coveney, accusing him of rejecting a reasonable offer and paving the road for a no-deal exit.

“Simon Coveney’s remarks are deeply unhelpful, obstructionist and intransigent,” she said.

“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.”

Ms Foster added: “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.

“From our 2017 manifesto to paragraph 50 of the December 2017 Joint Report, the consent of the people of Northern Ireland for specific solutions has been key.

“It is at the heart of the Belfast and St Andrews Agreements, yet the Irish foreign minister is now railing against it because it doesn’t suit his agenda.

“There will be no return to the flawed backstop. We will leave the EU, Customs Union and single market alongside the rest of the United Kingdom.”

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds later reiterated Ms Foster’s criticism.

“The incendiary and outrageous comments by Leo Varadkar and his foreign minister (Mr Coveney) are a clear ramping up of rhetoric designed to derail any realistic prospect of a deal,” he 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.”

PA

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