Sunday 23 September 2018

Damage caused by 'aggressive' Irish government will 'take a long time to repair' - DUP's Dodd

Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds during the DUP's annual conference at the La Mon hotel in Belfast
Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds during the DUP's annual conference at the La Mon hotel in Belfast

Richard Wheeler

Anglo-Irish relations have been set back by the Irish government's "aggressive and anti-unionist" approach in Brexit talks, the DUP has claimed.

Nigel Dodds, the DUP's Westminster leader, warned relationships in Northern Ireland linked to devolution have also been damaged and said they will "take a long time to repair".

Mr Dodds added his party's approach of seeking to "stand strong for the Union" and Northern Ireland's place within it should come as no surprise.

His remarks came in the Commons after the DUP refused to accept proposals which would have shifted Northern Ireland's customs border to the Irish Sea.

Mr Dodds said: "It should come as no surprise that the Dublin and Irish government wishes to advance its interests.

"The way it has gone about it in such an aggressive and anti-unionist way is disgraceful and has set back Anglo-Irish relations and damaged the relationships built up within Northern Ireland in terms of the devolution settlement - and that is going to take a long time to repair.

Read more: Explainer: How the Brexit border deal collapsed as the task ahead looks bigger than ever

"Secondly, it should come as no surprise that the Democratic Unionist Party stands strong for the Union, stands strong for Northern Ireland's place within the Union under the terms of the devolved settlement, and we will not allow any settlement to be agreed that causes the divergence politically or economically of Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

"Because to do so would not only be politically damaging but would be economically catastrophic for everyone in Northern Ireland - unionist, nationalist, Remainer or Brexiteer.

"The reality is that one of the good things that came out of yesterday is that from all sides of this House - Labour, Conservative, backbenchers, Ruth Davidson, Carwyn Jones, everybody - there is now an agreement that the United Kingdom stands together and nothing will happen that will cause the break-up of this great United Kingdom."

Brexit Secretary David Davis replied: "He's dead right. There's no surprise the Democratic Unionist Party stands for the United Kingdom - so does the Conservative and Unionist Party equally."

Read more: Northern Ireland won't be left inside EU to avoid hard border: Brexit Secretary

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