Northern Ireland

DUP hits out at Irish government's Brexit stance

Arlene Foster Image copyright Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Image caption Arlene Foster says she does not want a post-Brexit Northern Ireland to have a different status from the rest of the UK

The Irish Government are using Brexit negotiations to put forward their vision for the future of the island of Ireland, Arlene Foster has said.

The DUP leader accused Dublin of not allowing EU negotiations "to move forward until they have certain things they demand".

Meanwhile, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the UK desire for no hard-border in Ireland was "aspirational".

He said there could be no movement to phase two "on the basis of aspiration".

Arlene Foster was speaking to the BBC's Today programme ahead of the DUP's annual conference on Saturday.

She accused the Irish government of having taken an "absolutist position" on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, making it difficult to achieve agreement on its future status without moving on to the next stage of Brexit negotiations on trade.

"You can't have it both ways," she said.

Mrs Foster also said that she could not accept any position after Brexit that would give the perception that Northern Ireland is in any way different from the rest of the United Kingdom.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The future management of the Irish border is one of three main priorities in UK-EU Brexit talks

"We've heard from the foreign minister of the Republic of Ireland, just yesterday, talking about his aspiration for a united Ireland.

"He's of course entitled to have that aspiration but he should not be using European Union negotiations to talk about those issues - what he should be talking about are trading relations.

"I think what we don't want to see is any perception that Northern Ireland is in anyway different from the rest of the United Kingdom because that would cause us great difficulties in relation to trade because of course the single market that really matters to us is the market of the United Kingdom," she added.

Mrs Foster's comments follow the leaking of an Irish government report branding the UK's approach to Brexit as "chaotic".

Speaking on arrival at an EU summit in Brussels on Friday morning, the Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said that leak was "unfortunate" and "not helpful".

But in relation to phase two of Brexit talks he said; "We have to move on the basis of a credible roadmap or the parameters around which we can design a credible roadmap."

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