Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Dodds 'highly surprised' if Foster passed any draft agreement text to O'Neill days before talks collapse

'Speculation upon speculation... I don't think that's the case'

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said he would be "highly surprised" if it was the case Arlene Foster passed a draft text agreement to Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill in the days before the Northern Ireland talks collapsed.

On BBC's The View programme, the North Belfast MP was asked - as has been claimed by journalist Eamonn Mallie - if a hard copy of the subsequently leaked draft deal had been passed between the two leaders at 6.30pm on Friday, February 9.

"Certainly that's news to me I have no knowledge of that whatsoever ... I don't think that's the case," he responded.

"I would be highly surprised if that happened."

He continued: "This is speculation upon speculation and I am not going to get into that.

"Our party has acted perfectly correctly in how it has handled all of this and we have taken a decision which is that in the mean time until we can get devolution up and running in a fair and balanced way decisions have to be taken at Westminster.

When pressed on the matter, he added: "Can we stop being silly about all of this and stop this nonsense. The reality is that Arlene Foster and nobody in the DUP put forward for any kind of agreement the Irish language suggestions in any text because it was not agreed by her, by the party or anything else.

"That's the bottom line."

Northern Ireland talks aimed at restoring devolution were collapsed by DUP leader Arlene Foster just days after Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar visited Belfast amid speculation a deal had been done.

The DUP has constantly denied any agreement was ever in place that could be put to part officers or members.

On Thursday evening, Eamonn Maille published a picture of a header of a email claiming to be from DUP MLA Simon Hamilton under the subject: "Draft Agreement Text".

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph