DUP's Sammy Wilson regrets calling Varadkar 'nutcase', but says Taoiseach will 'destroy Ireland'
We must work with DUP says Coveney
DUP MP Sammy Wilson has said he "regrets" his choice of language after an interview in which he branded the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar a "nutcase".
But, he said the Taoiseach's approach will "eventually destroy Ireland". The East Antrim MP accused Mr Varadkar of "naivety and arrogance" in an interview with news website Politico.
Mr Wilson said there had been a change in tone from the Irish government after Enda Kenny stepped down, "but since this nutcase Varadkar has taken over that things have all changed".
The veteran parliamentarian now says he regrets his choice of language.
“Leo Varadkar’s approach may make him popular in Brussels but it will eventually destroy Ireland. Upon reflection, I should have said Leo Varadkar’s EU policies defy logic rather than the language I used. I regret my choice of language,” he told the Belfast Telegraph.
Addressing the press in Stormont after the announcement of a new set of talks, MLA Simon Hamilton added: "Sammy is never shy about telling you what he thinks. On this occasion he used language which he accepts was wrong and and regrets the language he has used."
Mr Wilson gave the interview after the Irish premier addressed the European Parliament on the future of the EU and in which he dismissed suggestions he has played any role in reported plots against Brexit. He also said the UK could not "backslide" on commitments made over the Irish border.
"I'm a friend of the United Kingdom and certainly want to be a friend of the United Kingdom," he said.
Sammy Wilson said the Irish government's actions over Brexit demonstrated the Fine Gael leader Varadkar's "naivety, inexperience and arrogance".
"It was always our view at the very start of this process that the biggest ally we would have when it came to negotiating with the European Union was Dublin, and indeed that always was the impression we got when Enda Kenny was in power, but since this nutcase Varadkar has taken over that things have all changed.”
Our focus is on trying to be constructive. Simon Coveney
The quotes were put to Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney who was in Belfast to announce a fresh set of talks to restore government.
He said he had "no reaction" to the comments.
He added: "We need to have a good working relationship with the DUP. As an Irish government we need to have a good working relationship with the largest political party in Northern Ireland.
"We need to respect the difference of views on many things but also we need to work in a pragmatic way to improve people's lives on the island of Ireland as a whole.
"We have shown in the past we can do that in many areas and have practical cooperation in terms of north/south cooperation."
He added: "I have heard Arlene Foster make very constructive comments in relation to practical solutions to some of the challenges that the island of Ireland and in deed the island and Britain face.
"So our focus is on trying to be constructive and I look forward to having a bi-lateral meeting with the DUP next week."
Belfast Telegraph Digital