Ireland promises progress in Apple tax recovery in coming weeks

Alicia Cross
November 23, 2017

The leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and former first minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, warned the Prime Minister of Ireland not to threaten the United Kingdom over Brexit.

Asked to clarify what she meant when she said that Brussels was "using Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip", Mrs Foster told the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg: "Particularly the Irish government, in the way they are referring to Northern Ireland in the negotiations around the border".

"Anybody in London, or anywhere else in Britain, who underestimates the politics of this or the strength of feeling in Ireland, I think, is making a mistake", Coveney said.

An EU paper proposing that Northern Ireland will have to stay in the customs union and single market to avoid a hard border was also reportedly "designed to be leaked". These two mutually exclusive possibilities have led to the suggestion that Northern Ireland should remain part of the Customs' Union, essentially moving the border to the Irish Sea.

The DUP leader, Arlene Foster, said it was a "talking shop which has not met since 2007". But when he declared that a return to a hard border was "unthinkable", Labour's shadow foreign secretary, Emily Thornberry, reminded him of a lengthy piece he wrote last September, laying down four personal red lines for the Brexit negotiations.

Patricia Callen
Patricia Callen

The leader of the far-right DUP, Foster, was embroiled in a financial scandal that brought about the resignation of Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and the collapse of the last unity government in Northern Ireland.

Mr Varadkar said yesterday that United Kingdom and Irish ministers should use an intergovernmental peace process body to plot a way forward for Northern Ireland if devolution is not restored as a result of ongoing talks.

Northern Ireland has been without a devolved administration since January, when the governing parties - the DUP and Sinn Féin - split in a bitter row over a failed green energy scheme. However, the DUP is empowered since Theresa May's government depends on DUP Members of Parliament to retain its parliamentary majority.

Mr Donaldson added: "Under the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) the Irish government is forbidden to interfere in the internal matters in Northern Ireland".

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