Saturday 21 July 2018

Foster accuses Coveney of being 'aggressive' on North

Arlene Foster at the DUP’s conference in Belfast at the weekend. Photo: PA
Arlene Foster at the DUP’s conference in Belfast at the weekend. Photo: PA

David Young

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster has accused Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney of "aggressive" behaviour on the North.

Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster has accused Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney of "aggressive" behaviour on the North.

Ms Foster's remarks about Mr Coveney, and specifically his recent comments voicing support for a united Ireland, came as she again heavily criticised the Irish Government for its stance on Brexit.

Relations between the DUP and the Government have deteriorated markedly since Leo Varadkar became Taoiseach in the summer.

One of the main bones of contention for the DUP is Dublin's insistence that Northern Ireland should continue to comply with an EU customs framework when the rest of the UK exits the single market and customs union.

Ms Foster insists that Northern Ireland must be treated the same as the rest of the UK, a message that she made clear in her party conference speech in Belfast on Saturday. In an interview with RTÉ, Ms Foster directed specific criticism at Mr Coveney when challenged about whether the administration's stance on Brexit was motivated by a desire for Irish unity.

Simon Coveney has voiced support for a united Ireland. Photo: Gerry Mooney
Simon Coveney has voiced support for a united Ireland. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Mr Coveney told a Dáil committee last week that he would like to see a united Ireland in "my political lifetime".

"Why then did Simon use this moment in time to talk about his aspiration for a united Ireland in his political lifetime?" Ms Foster asked.

"That's quite aggressive."

She also referred to his explicit support for a stand-alone Irish language Act, which is the key sticking point between the DUP and Sinn Féin in talks to restore powersharing.

Ms Foster accused Mr Coveney and Mr Varadkar of engaging in megaphone diplomacy, adding in relation to Brexit negotiations: "Some of the rhetoric from Dublin recently has been of a nature that actually could bring about self-harm to the Republic."

Irish Independent

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