Foster accuses Dublin of using Brexit talks to promote a united Ireland

Posted By: November 25, 2017


John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. November 25, 2017


ASPIRATIONS: Arlene Foster

said Dublin was promoting

unification after Simon Coveney 

said he wanted to see a united

Ireland in his political lifetime.


 Simon Coveney said he wanted to see a

united Ireland in his “political lifetime.”

 Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

 Arlene Foster has accused the Dublin government of using the Brexit negotiations to promote a united Ireland. Speaking ahead of today’s DUP annual conference, the former first minister voiced alarm at Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney’s desire to see a united Ireland in his “political lifetime.”

The Fine Gael deputy leader made the remarks to the Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Committee on Thursday.

Mrs. Foster said such interventions were hampering efforts to move the stalled Brexit negotiations to the next phase.

“The Irish government is actually using the negotiations in Europe to put forward their views on what they believe the island of Ireland should look like in the future,” she said.

The DUP leader said Mr. Coveney was entitled to aspire to a united Ireland, “but he should not be using European Union negotiations to talk about those issues – what he should be talking about is trading relationships.”

Earlier in the week, the former first minister accused Dublin of blackmail after Leo Varadkar warned that progress in the Brexit talks could be blocked unless Britain came up with proposals to avoid a hard border.

In yesterday’s interview with BBC Radio 4, she refused to address the taoiseach’s suggestion that the UK could continue to apply the rules of the customs unions and the single market without being members of the EU.

“What we don’t want to see is any perception that Northern Ireland is in any way different from the rest of the United Kingdom because that would cause us great difficulties in relation to trade,” she said.

“The single market that really matters to us is the single market of the United Kingdom.”

She said Dublin’s stance on the border was preventing progress in the Brexit negotiations.

“Leo Varadkar is saying he won’t allow the discussions to move to the next stage, to talk about trade, until he has had a commitment in relation to the Irish border,” she said.

“You cannot have it in that fashion. We want to move to the next stage.”

Mr. Foster also accused US diplomat Richard Haass of bias after he said the Stormont talks were being hampered because the Tory government was “wedded” to the DUP.

Asked whether Mr. Haass was impartial, she replied: “No. Not at all.”

The DUP leader also believes a snap election in the south could impede political progress north of the border.

She said an election campaign would draw Sinn Féin’s focus away from finding a resolution to the Stormont impasse.

“Certainly in respect of the Stormont talks I assume that if an election is called in the Republic of Ireland that Sinn Féin’s focus will be entirely on Dublin and the elections down there,” Mrs. Foster said.

“So I think it would have a huge impact on whether we would be able to bring around devolution this year to Northern Ireland and, as I understand, the election would have to take place before Christmas, so that means December would really be out in terms of the talks.”