Ian Paisley Jnr says Britain should use fisheries deal to 'punish' Republic

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr has hit out at the Republic's approach to Brexit negotiations. Picture by Matt Bohill, Pacemaker

BRITAIN should make life hard for the Republic over a post-Brexit fisheries deal as a response to its "disgraceful" behaviour in the current negotiations, DUP MP Ian Paisley has suggested.

The North Antrim MP made the suggestion to a committee of MPs in Westminster who are examining the future of the Irish border after the UK leaves the EU.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee was hearing evidence from Brexit Minister Robin Walker and Northern Ireland Office minister Chloe Smith.

Referencing the stance the UK should take with the Dublin government, Mr Paisley told witnesses the "pussyfooting needs to stop".

"I think our neighbour has acted disgracefully," he said.

Mr Paisley was referring to the Republic's position that, in order to avoid a hard border post-Brexit, Northern Ireland should continue to comply with European regulatory frameworks - even if the rest of the UK leaves the customs union and single market.

He said the UK had loaned the Republic "billions" of pounds to bail it out of "economic ruin and bankruptcy".

Mr Paisley said fisheries waters used by Irish boats would become UK waters after Brexit.

"As early as September in 2019 they will need to make a fisheries deal, not with the rest of the EU, but with us, and, frankly, if they continue to exacerbate our will as citizens of the United Kingdom, I think we should make that fisheries deal extremely long, tenuous and hard for them," he said.

He said if the British government was not prepared to say that publicly to the Dublin administration, he said it should start to "shake their cage internally and privately".

Ms Smith told the committee that discussions remain ongoing with the political parties in Northern Ireland in an attempt to reach an agreement to return to power-sharing.

Asked whether that was a contradiction of comments made by Sinn Féin's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill earlier this week when she said there was no basis for talks to continue, Ms Smith said: "Meetings are continuing".

She added: "Whether I agree with Michelle O'Neill or not that there is no basis, there is a clear basis for an agreement to be found, the number of issues which remain to be resolved is limited in number and possible to overcome".

However, Ms Smith did not elaborate on the nature of discussions or if they amounted to official negotiations.

A summit meeting will be held on December 14 in Brussels with the heads of government of the EU states.

Progress on Brexit negotiations will be considered at this stage, with the border on the island of Ireland expected to be among the core issues focused on.

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