Coveney suggestion of joint authority nonsense: DUP MP

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has launched a blistering attack on Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney over his suggestion that Dublin may have some input in Northern Ireland affairs.

Sammy Wilson accused Simon Coveney of opening his mouth without engaging his brain
Sammy Wilson accused Simon Coveney of opening his mouth without engaging his brain

Mr Coveney, in an interview with Irish broadcaster RTE at the weekend, said that in the absence of an Executive “intergovernmental conferences” could be “triggered” to make decisions on Northern Ireland.

The Fine Gael TD had made similar comments, also to RTE, back in September.

“There can be no British-only direct rule,” he had said at that time. “That is the Irish government’s position.”

East Antrim MP Mr Wilson, however, described the suggestion of some form of joint authority for Northern Ireland as “nonsense” as he launched a scathing attack on Mr Coveney, whom he said had “annoyed” Prime Minister Theresa May “big time”.

Speaking to the News Letter, Mr Wilson said: “The first thing to say is that it’s nonsense.

“Maybe what he should do is go back and read the Belfast Agreement, first of all, before he opens his mouth.

“The difficulty is he does open his mouth without engaging his brain or without any knowledge of what he’s talking about and, in doing so, every time he does it he drives a bigger wedge between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“It’s ironic. On the one hand he talks about how we’ve got to repair the damage that’s been done over the recent debate about Brexit, and on the other hand he talks about joint authority. It’s hardly the way to win friends and influence people.

“The second thing is that the mechanism, he says, by which joint authority would be exercised isn’t even within the (Belfast) Agreement. The (UK) government knows full well, from the conversations that we’ve had with them, that there’ll be no toleration of any input from Dublin.”

Mr Wilson added: “If he thinks that the British government will be amenable to that sort of suggestion when he has annoyed them, big time – you only have to talk to the prime minister to see that the Irish have annoyed them big time – if they think they’re going to find the British government in any way amenable to their wee plans, then they’ve another thing coming to them.

“I think that illustrates the man’s total naivety. He should really go and read that book ‘how to win friends and influence people’.”

The News Letter has asked the Irish government to respond, but no reply had been received at time of publication.