Arlene Foster claims taoiseach is being “reckless” ahead of crucial Brexit talks

Posted By: November 22, 2017

Foster criticizes taoiseach over Brexit

John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Arlene Foster has criticized Leo Varadkar, saying the Taoiseach “should know better” than to “play around” with Northern Ireland over Brexit.

The DUP leader accused the Fine Gael leader of being “reckless” ahead of a critical phase in the Brexit negotiations.

Her comments come after Mr. Varadkar last week told British prime minister Theresa May that a hard Border should be “off the table” before the next stage of negotiations between the EU and UK proceed.

“We’ve been given assurances that there will be no hard Border in Ireland, that there won’t be any physical infrastructure, that we won’t go back to the borders of the past,” he said.

“We want that written down in practical terms in the conclusions of phase one.”

The Taoiseach said the British government’s decision to “unilaterally” rule out important options in the Brexit talks meant the Republic and the EU had to set non-negotiable red lines.

The Dublin government and the EU are insisting that Britain explain now how it can preserve a soft, frictionless Irish border but the UK says the issue cannot be tackled until the next phase of negotiations.

The DUP is adamant that there can be no checks on trade between Northern Ireland and Britain, as this would effectively put a border in the middle of the Irish Sea.

Taking aim at the Taoiseach in an interview with the BBC yesterday, the Mrs Foster said: “Some people are taking their moment in the sun, to try and get the maximum in relation to the negotiations – and I understand that but you shouldn’t play about with Northern Ireland particularly at a time when we’re trying to bring about devolved government again.”

The DUP leader said that to suggest Brexit would jeopardize the peace process was “a very careless thing to say” and she accused the Republic’s government of being “reckless.”

Mrs. Foster said she recognized Brexit was a “big shock” for the Republic and “they are trying to process all of that”.

“But they certainly shouldn’t be using Northern Ireland to get the maximum deal for their citizens,” she said.

The Fermanagh South Tyrone MLA said it was necessary to move on to the second phase of negotiations as the agreed trade arrangements would have a direct bearing on the border situation.

So far the EU has insisted that the negotiations cannot advance because Britain has yet to address the core issues of Ireland and the so-called divorce bill, while it is understood progress has been made on EU citizen’s rights.