Brian Hayes says 'fascist IRA' lost to Sean O'Callaghan
Flanagan warns 'premature' United Ireland talk 'dangerous'
Fine Gael MEP Brian Hayes has said that Provisional IRA informer Sean O'Callaghan, who died last week, "ultimately defeated" the IRA and had helped to "expose their fascist campaign".
Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, meanwhile, has said this weekend that Brexit-related "premature talk" of a United Ireland is "dangerous".
Mr Flanagan's statement comes as Brussels has warned the UK against using the Northern Ireland peace process as a "bargaining chip" to secure a UK-EU trade deal.
Mr Hayes told the Sunday Independent: "I met Sean O'Callaghan on a few occasions and remember him as a serious person who desperately wanted the public to know just how depraved the IRA's campaign was.
"He literally put his life on the line to tell the truth. I believe his life, after his involvement with the IRA, was all about wanting to expose their tactics and their criminality. I believed him.
"Despite the pretence by Sinn Fein that the IRA's terror campaign was a war of liberation, Sean O'Callaghan knew from experience that it was a war of subjugation.
"One of the reasons the IRA were ultimately defeated was because from top and bottom they were thankfully infiltrated by informers. Sean O'Callaghan was one such informer, someone who exposed them for what they were. He ultimately defeated them. And in helping to expose their fascist campaign we all owe him gratitude."
Mr Flanagan, meanwhile, said that after meeting the Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire last week he had expressed concerns at links being forged between the Brexit debate and a United Ireland with reference to the North-South border.
He told the Sunday Independent: "Any talk of unity is dependent on a unity of hearts and minds and the express consent of the unionist minority on this island to a debate on a United Ireland and how it might be best achieved and what type of form and structure it might take.
"Premature talk of unity is dangerous. It only makes unionists fear for the principle of consent that was endorsed in referendums North and South following the Good Friday Agreement and, further, it potentially weakens the solid bonds of friendship and co-operation between North and South formed in recent years."
Meanwhile, it was reported yesterday that EU negotiators were particularly annoyed by the UK Brexit position paper on Ireland.
"We are concerned by any linkages created in the UK paper on Ireland between the preservation of the peace process, including the invisible border, and the future of the EU-UK trade agreement," a senior EU official was quoted as saying. "The peace process must not be a bargaining chip in these negotiations."
Ahead of a third round of talks this week which offer little hope of a breakthrough, UK Brexit Secretary David Davis has said it is "wholly illogical" for the EU to imagine it can resolve border issues in Ireland without knowing what future trade and customs relations will be.