Staff Reporter. Irish News. Belfast. Thursday, December 21, 2017

DUP MPs at Westminster last week. Deputy leader Nigel Dodds accused the Irish government of â??loose, inaccurate and misrepresentative languageâ??. Picture by Jonathan Brady/PA Wire.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) and Tanaiste Simon Coveney during a press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin following Brexit negotiations. Picture by Laura Hutton/PA Wire.
The DUP has launched fresh attacks on the Irish government as the relationship between Dublin and the main unionist party deteriorates.

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds accused the Irish government of “loose, inaccurate and misrepresentative language” in remarks on its role in decision-making on Northern Ireland if no executive is formed.

“The three-stranded approach to Northern Ireland has been established and operated over several decades now and it is a fundamental foundation for the progress we have made. Anyone seeking to undermine that approach, whether deliberately or inadvertently, will also undermine that progress,” he said.

The North Belfast MP added: “Hopefully it can be respected by everyone, and efforts turned towards seeking an agreement that can be supported by both unionists and nationalists.”

Earlier North Antrim MP Ian Paisley, Jr. asked at Westminster if the UK government should “slap down” Tánaiste Simon Coveney, claiming comments by the Irish government undermined confidence among unionists.

Another DUP MP, Paul Girvan, continued the criticism of the Irish government in questions at Westminster.

“In light of recent comments by the Irish prime minister and the secretary of state, the Irish prime minister and deputy prime minister, Mr. Coveney, and Mr. Varadkar, they have indicated that they will draw a border down the middle of the Irish Sea,” he said.

“Can I ask that those sorts of comments do not give much confidence back to the people of Northern Ireland, and the unionist community that I represent, who want to be an integral part of the United Kingdom.”

Earlier this week East Derry MP Gregory Campbell also criticised Mr. Coveney.

Historian and Irish News columnist Brian Feeney said it appeared the DUP was concerned it would lose its “cozy relationship” with the British government.

“The DUP’s major fear is that in the absence of devolution the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will meet – which is in the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.

“Before devolution was restored in 2007 the conference met four times in 2006 and once in 2007. And they discussed everything.

“The Irish government is absolutely right to call for the conference to meet. The reason the British government won’t slap down the Irish government is that it can’t.”