Brexit: Environment department distances itself from Ian Paisley's 'shake Dublin's cage' call
THE British government's environment department has appeared to distance itself from a call by Ian Paisley to make a Brexit fisheries deal "extremely long, tedious and hard" for the Republic.
The DUP North Antrim MP faced criticism for urging the UK to make life difficult for the Irish government and "shake their cage".
He claimed Dublin had acted "disgracefully" in Brexit talks and could be punished in fisheries talks if they "continue to exacerbate our will as citizens of the United Kingdom".
The SDLP's Claire Hanna described Mr Paisley's remarks to a Westminister committee as "absolute madness".
She urged British environment secretary Michael Gove to make his position clear given the DUP's confidence-and-supply deal with the Conservative government.
In response, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it wanted to "protect our strong ties with Ireland".
A spokeswoman said: "As we leave the European Union, we are working hard to secure the best possible deal for our fishermen – one that will protect our strong ties with Ireland while allowing our coastal communities to thrive.
"As part of this, we are clear we will continue to cooperate with adjacent states to make sure shared fish stocks are managed sustainably and effectively."
In July, Mr Gove was pictured with senior DUP figures including Mr Paisley when he visited the north, but Sinn Féin claimed a planned meeting with them was cancelled at the last minute.