Friday 20 July 2018

DUP MP accuses Leo Vardakar of 'disrespecting' the people of Northern Ireland

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin following Brexit negotiations. Laura Hutton/PA Wire
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar during a press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin following Brexit negotiations. Laura Hutton/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been accused of disrespecting the people of Northern Ireland by a DUP MP.

Jim Shannon said the power for Northern Ireland politics rested at Westminster and "certainly doesn't lie" with the Irish Taoiseach.

It came as former shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said the DUP were "holding this Government round the neck" as Theresa May attempted to hold on to power.

Reports suggested that DUP leader Arlene Foster had voiced strong opposition to a proposal she claimed would see Northern Ireland treated differently from the rest of the UK, as part of Brexit negotiations over the Irish border.

The Government's majority in the Commons is dependent on its confidence and supply deal with the DUP at Westminster.

Strangford MP Mr Shannon told Mr Murray: "Will he also acknowledge the disrespect that the Taoiseach has shown to the people of Northern Ireland today, whenever he said that he now speaks for the people of Northern Ireland, and the DUP and other elected parties don't.

"Is it not time that he knows exactly that the power for Northern Ireland, for democracy, for the political process, is here in this chamber.

"And it certainly doesn't lie with Leo Varadkar, as the Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland."

Labour MP Mr Murray replied: "I think in the chamber, in the country or anybody who happens to be watching these proceedings will see that the three members of the Democratic Unionist Party that are sitting in this chamber are the real government in this House.

"They are dictating the terms of Brexit. The member who's just intervened on me, the honourable gentleman, is no doubt the de facto secretary of state for exiting the European Union, in terms of the power they have over the Prime Minister.

"It's clear, as I said earlier, that between courses at lunch this afternoon the Prime Minister has gone from a negotiated agreement to a set of texts, to throwing it in the bin alongside any leftovers from the lunch.

"It's clear that the Democratic Unionist Party, 10 members of Parliament from Northern Ireland, are holding this Government to account, are holding this Government round the neck, because it's much more important for the Prime Minister to hold on to power than it is to do what's in the best interest of all of our nations."

Mr Murray had earlier said events in Brussels on Monday were a "farce" and that Mrs Foster "controls the Government" and was "the real de facto Prime Minister in this country".

He also bemoaned the fact that journalists on Twitter appeared to have more information on Mrs May's meetings on Monday than other MPs.

DUP MP Ian Paisley (North Antrim) said: "I don't think anyone should get their news constantly from Twitter.

"But on the key point, on all of these clauses, should we not show discernment and skill and make sure that we don't fall for the spin, whether it comes out of Dublin or London or Brussels?

"Let this negotiation run and let's see what comes out of it at the end."

Reacting to the news that Ms May had failed to reach agreement over the Irish border, Labour former minister Vernon Coaker accused the Government of "undermining" the peace process.

Mr Coaker said: "What we saw this morning with the Government saying there was going to be a deal with respect to the border in Ireland and then the PM going for lunch, coming out of lunch because the DUP hadn't been consulted or hadn't agreed to those arrangements.

"What does it do for both unionism and nationalism within Ireland when that sort of event takes place?

"Frankly it looks as though the Government is in chaos, doesn't know what it's doing and in pursing that undermines the whole peace process in the Northern Ireland."

Press Association

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