DUP could do great service for whole of Ireland: former TD

Martin Mansergh
Martin Mansergh

The DUP could do a “great service” to the island of Ireland if they use their influence at Westminster to push for the UK staying in the customs union, a former Fianna Fail TD has said.

Martin Mansergh, a key negotiator of the Good Friday Agreement, said he did not necessarily share the concerns expressed by former Prime Minister John Major and others that a deal between the DUP and Tory administration could harm the peace process.

Speaking to RTE today, the former senator said: “Secretary of State James Brokenshire has said the talks at Stormont are completely separate from the talks taking place at Westminster.

“I think people are right to be concerned and right to be vigilant. But I am also conscious of a potential upside.

“The DUP could do a great service not just to Northern Ireland, but to the whole island, if they were to throw their weight behind Britain staying in the customs union, because that would solve most of the problems related to the border.”

Mr Mansergh also felt that any additional financial commitments provided to NI as part of the pending Tory-DUP deal could give Sinn Fein added impetus to return to the power-sharing institutions.

“It makes it all the more important that they [Sinn Fein] get back into the Executive and share the decision making in how the extra funding is going to be spent, and that it will be spent fairly for the benefit of the whole community.”

Speaking about Sinn Fein’s demand for Arlene Foster to stand aside as DUP leader until after an inquiry into the ‘cash for ash’ scandal has completed, 70-year-old Mr Mansergh said it now “bordered on the ridiculous”, given the DUP’s success in last week’s general election.