Monday 16 September 2019

Diplomat intervenes in Coveney aide row

Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
Tánaiste Simon Coveney. Photo: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Ireland's Ambassador to the United Kingdom was forced to intervene after it emerged officials in Tanaiste Simon Coveney's office believed dissident republican attacks influenced Prime Minister Boris Johnson's thinking on Brexit.

The Sunday Independent last week revealed a senior Government source close to Mr Coveney claimed the terrorist attacks resulted in Mr Johnson becoming "a bit friendlier" towards Ireland.

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The suggestion was criticised by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin, who called on the Tanaiste to condemn the suggestion, which he has not done.

However, the director of London-based think tank Policy Exchange, Dean Godson, did criticise the official in the Tanaiste's office for their comments. "The source effectively gave violent republican opponents of the peace process credit for causing Boris Johnson to shift his position on Brexit," Mr Godson wrote in a British newspaper.

"The logic employed by this unrepudiated Coveney source is that dissident violence could be used to shift the British every time there is an impasse in the talks," he added.

The following day, Ambassador Adrian O'Neill wrote a letter to the newspaper criticising Mr Godson. He noted the Tanaiste's spokesperson stated Mr Coveney believes there is "absolutely no place for men or women of violence in our societies".

The Department of Foreign Affairs said Mr O'Neill wrote to the newspaper to refute claims that the Irish Government is encouraging "dirty tactics" on Brexit.

Sunday Independent

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