10/01/2019

Irish Foreign Minister Criticises Brexiteer Backstop 'Spin'

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs has denied meddling in UK politics and insisted he has an obligation to challenge those "misrepresenting" what the Withdrawal Agreement means in practice.

Simon Coveney added that he does not have an anti-British bone in his body and wants to be a "candid friend" to Ireland's closest neighbour.

He criticised those Brexiteers who have claimed the border backstop would undermine the constitutional integrity of the UK and make a united Ireland more likely by creating borders between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

"Unfortunately some people are trying to spin it into something that it is not – there is no threat," he said.

"There is no hidden agenda here coming from the Irish Government or from Dublin. What we are trying to do is protect the status quo.
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"Some people are choosing, in my view, to misrepresent what that deal is about for the future, particularly for Northern Ireland, and I need to speak up on that, I wouldn't be fulfilling my obligations if I didn't."

Relations between the Irish Government and the DUP have become strained throughout the Brexit process, with the Stormont party accusing the Dublin administration of scaremongering over the threat of a hard border.

The party's East Antrim MP, Sammy Wilson, has portrayed the border backstop as a "confidence trick" played by the Irish Government.

Mr Coveney suggested that such views are not reflective of the wider unionist community in Northern Ireland.

The Irish Government has also rejected any suggestion that a future Stormont executive could veto aspects of the border backstop, contrary to a commitment issued by the Conservative government.

Mr Coveney expressed concern about the proposal due to the legally binding international treaty known as the Withdrawal Agreement.



(JG)

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