Belfast Telegraph

Sammy Wilson hits out at Varadkar over 'despicable, low and rotten' border violence claim

By Michael Sheils McNamee

Sammy Wilson has called Leo Varadkar's behaviour "despicable, low and rotten" in a scathing attack on the Taoiseach for his reference to violence at the Northern Ireland border during the Troubles at an EU Summit.

His attack comes as the Republic's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has rejected claims of "scaremongering" over the concerns.

Appearing before EU leaders at an event on Wednesday night in Brussels, Mr Varadkar produced a copy of the day's edition of the Irish Times, which carried a picture of an IRA bomb attack on the Newry Customs Office in 1972.

Nine people were killed and six injured in the attack when a bomb exploded prematurely on August 22.

A spokesman for Mr Varadkar said he had used the copy of the newspaper to demonstrate "how far we have come in 30 years, from violence to peace".

In a statement titled "How much lower can vile Varadker stoop", East Antrim MP Mr Wilson said Leo Varadkar had "lost any sense of self control in relation to the decision of the UK to leave the EU".

Mr Wilson's attack comes as the Republic's Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has rejected claims of "scaremongering" on Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster programme.

Mr Coveney said: "We are trying to protect a very precious peace and normality on the island of Ireland."

"If you speak to families living in the border area they will talk in very emotive terms about their fears of the re-emergence of that border infrastructure and it's important to be honest about that.

"It doesn't suit some people's political narrative.

"It certainly doesn't suit people who advocate for Brexit because this is very awkward and difficult to deal with but it's the truth. "

In a wide-ranging attack Mr Wilson hits on a number of points previously raised by the Taoiseach, including the effect Brexit will have on Britain's energy supply and ability to use Irish airspace, before focusing on Wednesday's presentation to the EU.

"His latest use of a victim of the IRA who was killed when the republican terrorists blew up a border post scrapes the bottom of the very deep barrel of threats, deception and rhetoric which he has dipped into in order to persuade ignorant heads of EU states that the EU must insist in detaching NI from the UK in any Brexit deal," says Mr Wilson.

"First of all he knows just how some of the republican madmen in NI will react to the false fears he is stirring up about barriers along the border. Indeed he knows that they will use them to influence stupid and easily led young people to join their ranks."

Mr Wilson claims Mr Varadkar knows a physical border is not a possibility, and that "even in the event of no deal at all there will be no checkpoints erected".

He adds that Mr Varadkar's behaviour is "despicable , low and rotten" and make reference to protracted violence in Derry over the summer in the lead up to the Twelfth.

The Office of the Taoiseach has been contacted for comment.

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