Dublin's stance over Brexit driven by political instability, says Arlene Foster
Political instability rather than concern for Northern Ireland is driving the Dublin government's stance over Brexit, said Arlene Foster.
Stormont's First Minister said relations with the Irish administration were as good as they ever had been and she would continue to work with the southern neighbours.
But she told delegates at the DUP annual conference near Belfast that relations with the EU were much less important than the benefits derived from being within the UK.
"The reality is that political instability in Dublin, and fears for their own future, are driving their decision-making at present as much as any concern about Northern Ireland.
"And while they seek to take the views of people of Northern Ireland on the issue of Brexit at home, their representatives are sent out around the world to talk down our economy and to attempt to poach our investors.
"It is clear, conference, that the one place that a hard border does exist is in the mind of the Irish Government.
"Well, I don't believe in a hard border and am happy to welcome shoppers looking for a bargain from across the border any time they want to come.
"And I am quite confident that the investment offer that will be available, both now and in the future, will mean our reputations as a place to invest will continue to grow."
Mrs Foster was addressing her first party conference as leader. She replaced Peter Robinson in December.
The DUP retained its position as Northern Ireland's largest party in the May Assembly poll. The party campaigned for Brexit in the June referendum.