Varadkar comments on violence branded 'despicable' by DUP
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was branded "vile" by a senior DUP MP amid backlash to his comments about a return to violence if a hard Border re-emerges on the island.
At this week's EU summit, Mr Varadkar spoke about the violence experienced at the Border during the Troubles, and warned the Irish Government was not exaggerating the real risk of violence if a hard Border re-emerges after Brexit.
But DUP MP for East Antrim Sammy Wilson branded the Fine Gael leader "vile Varadkar" and accused the Taoiseach of having "lost any sense of self control" in relation to Brexit.
"However, 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 a 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," he said.
Mr Wilson claimed the latest comments by Mr Varadkar would lead to "Republican madmen" in Northern Ireland using the "false fears he is stirring up" to recruit people.
"His behaviour is despicable, low and rotten," he said.
His criticism was also echoed by DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds, who said "to use the prospect of violence and terrorism is a disgraceful and dangerous gamble".
"The Irish and others are very quick to lecture everyone else about language but feel very happy to wave about the return of terrorism in their pursuit of their political objectives," he said, before claiming that "one of the reasons there was so much Border violence was the IRA could carry out such attacks and then find sanctuary in the Republic where they were shielded from extradition by successive Irish governments, including those led by his own party".
Meanwhile, the son of a victim of IRA violence has also described the Taoiseach's comments as "ill advised". Rev David Clements' father, reserve police constable William Clements, was one of two men shot at close range at the gates of Ballygawley police station in 1985.
Mr Clements said: "I am deeply troubled by some comments from the Taoiseach.
"To use the emotive argument that a hard Border risks a return to the violence of the past is ill-considered and dangerous."
However, a spokesperson for the Taoiseach defended his comments in Brussels.
"The Taoiseach wanted to ensure that fellow European leaders fully realise what is at stake and the importance of preserving the peace process throughout the Brexit process," he said.
He added the priority of all of those involved in the Brexit negotiations is to "protect the peace process and avoid the return of a hard Border on the island".