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DUP launches fresh attacks on the Irish government as the relationship between them deteriorates further

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.
Staff Reporter

THE DUP has launched fresh attacks on the Irish government as the relationship between Dublin and the main unionist party deteriorates further.

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds accused the Irish government of “loose, inaccurate and misrepresentative language” in remarks on the role of Dublin in decision-making on Northern Ireland if there continues to be no executive.

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

And 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, Ian Paisley jnr asked at Westminster if the UK government should “slap down” Tánaiste Simon Coveney, claiming that comments by the Irish government were undermining 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.

"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,” the South Antrim MP said.

Earlier this week, DUP MP Gregory Campbell also criticised Mr Coveney, saying the relationship had deteriorated since the departure of Taoiseach Enda Kenny and minister for foreign affairs Charlie Flanagan.

“For the [Republic's] Foreign Minister to suggest some role for his Government in the internal affairs of Northern Ireland ignores the constitutional reality,” the East Derry MP said.

The DUP was angered by Mr Coveney's repeated assertion the British direct rule in Northern was unacceptable to the Irish government.

Historian and Irish News columnist Brian Feeney said it appeared the DUP was concerned it would lose its "cosy relationship" with the British government. The DUP struck an agreement to prop up Theresa May's government earlier this year.

"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 and the reason the British government won't slap down the Irish government is because it can't."

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