Sunday 21 April 2019

DUP are 'surprise guests' at Fine Gael national conference

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

A LEADING MP from the DUP is to be a ‘surprise’ guest speaker at Fine Gael’s annual conference in Wexford this weekend, has learned.

Jeffrey Donaldson is to take part in a debate with other Northern Ireland politicians and Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

He has previously clashed heavily with the Irish government and in particular Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who he accused of “playing politics” with the Good Friday Agreement.

It also comes after the DUP made their latest attempt to kill off the Brexit deal which the Irish government desperately wants to be approved in Westminster next week.

Earlier the DUP’s Nigel Dodds said the Brexit extension negotiated by British Prime Minister Theresa May with EU leaders amounted to a “disappointment and inexcusable” failure.

"Lectures by the Prime Minister putting the blame on others cannot disguise the responsibility her government bears for the current debacle and the fact that her agreement has been twice overwhelmingly rejected," Mr Dodds said.

The session Mr Donaldson will take part in is being hosted by Young Fine Gael is titled ‘North-South relations into the future’.

Other panellists include the leader of the Alliance Party, Naomi Lon and former SDLP MP Claire Hanna who quit the party over their recent partnership with Fianna Fáil.

The topics being discussed include the lack of an functioning executive in Northern Ireland.

The agenda for the Fine Gael conference is heavily focused on Brexit. Another special guest is the European People Party’s candidate to be the next president of the European Commission Manfred Weber.

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