Monday 28 May 2018

Arlene Foster claims Irish government 'prevented' DUP from seeing text on border agreement

Photo: PA
Photo: PA

Shona Murray

DUP leader Arlene Foster has accused the Irish government of refusing to allow them access to critical text relating to a solution to the Irish border after Brexit.

Ms Foster said she didn’t see the text until just before it was signed off by UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Brussels.

It committed Northern Ireland to regulatory equivalence to that of Ireland and the rest of the EU.

Ms Foster said the DUP had requested from Theresa May to see the wording on several occasions.

“We spoke on Sunday evening, didn’t have text, and the text landed with us late on Monday morning”, she told Sky News.

She said: “There have been reasons given to us as to why we weren’t given the text until so late on.

“One of those reasons is that the Irish Government wouldn’t allow them to share that text.”

The Irish government has refuted the claims as “impossible”, a spokesperson for the Taoiseach has told Independent.ie.

A statement from the Irish government said: “'The Irish government had no role whatsoever in the negotiations conducted by the British Government. It therefore had no involvement in any decision on which documents should go to the dup.'

Arlene Foster says “we’d been in discussion with the Conservative Party right throughout and we’d asked for the text on a number of occasions, only to be told that there was no text at that particular occasion.

 “That left us in a very difficult position, we had to look at the text and try to understand what the ramifications of the text were.

“Once we had the time to do that, we realised that in no way could we sign up to that text, because essentially it was making a red line down the Irish Sea.”

In another interview with RTE, Ms. Foster said the British negotiation team told her that the Irish government “prevented” the DUP seeing the deal.

A British government spokesperson said they had “no comment” on the matter.

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