Belfast Telegraph

Paisley hits out at Simon Coveney: 'If he wants to make inflammatory statements, he should do so in his own country'

Simon Coveney and Ian Paisley.
Simon Coveney and Ian Paisley.

DUP MP Ian Paisley has hit out at Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney for making "inflammatory statements" during a visit to Belfast.

Mr Coveney, after meeting Northern Ireland's new Secretary of State Julian Smith on Friday, said that new Prime Minister Boris Johnson had set the UK on a "collision course" with the Republic and the European Union over his comments so far on the Brexit process.

Mr Paisley said the Irish government should "dial down the megaphone diplomacy" and said Mr Coveney's language while in Belfast was "unhelpful and unnecessarily aggressive".

"The Irish government is entirely entitled to speak its mind. However, for the Irish Foreign Minister to parade around Parliament Buildings in Stormont as if it is his seat of government is downright provocative and disrespectful," the North Antrim MP said.

"It is high time Simon Coveney showed some respect for the constitutional situation.  If he wants to make inflammatory statements, he should do so in his own country and be fully aware of the damage he is doing.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Coveney said the Prime Minister's comments on Brexit were "unhelpful", adding that it was a bad day for the Brexit process.

"I think the statements of the British Prime Minister in the House of Commons were unhelpful in this process," he added.

"He seems to have made a deliberate decision to set Britain on a collision course with the EU and Ireland in relation to the Brexit negotiations.

"Only he can answer the question as to why he is doing that.

"From a Brexit negotiating perspective, it was a bad day yesterday and we will have to wait and see if that message coming from London changes in the weeks ahead."

Boris Johnson has pledged to take the UK out of the EU on October 31 with or without a deal.

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