DUP move does ‘not necessarily’ undermine peace process, Irish minister says

The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister pictured at Stormont in Belfast .'Picture By: Arthur Allison.
The Irish Foreign Affairs Minister pictured at Stormont in Belfast .'Picture By: Arthur Allison.

Theresa May’s desire to team up with the DUP does “not necessarily” undermine the Northern Ireland peace process, according to Ireland’s foreign minister.

Charlie Flanagan said he has raised the matter with Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire, although it remains to be seen what deal is agreed between the Conservatives and Arlene Foster’s party.

Mrs May is seeking support from the 10 DUP MPs in order to allow her to win key votes in the House of Commons.

It follows the Prime Minister’s decision to call a General Election, which backfired as the Tories lost their majority following big gains from Labour.

Mr Flanagan was asked about suggestions that any Conservative deal with the DUP would undermine Westminster’s impartiality as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, also known as the Belfast Agreement.

He told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “Well, not necessarily the case. Of course, it remains to be seen what the nature of that deal is.

“But this is an issue I did address the evening before last with Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

“I look forward to meeting with him again tomorrow if his appointment is reaffirmed, but yes I think it’s an important issue that you raise - the objectivity of both governments, and both governments working strictly in accordance with our legal responsibilities under the Belfast Agreement, the Irish government as co-guarantor, indeed the British Government as co-guarantor.”

Mr Flanagan added the EU member states are “ready to roll” when it comes to Brexit talks.

These are due to start within days although they could be delayed given the UK’s political uncertainty.

Mr Flanagan said: “I’m conscious of the fact that this clock is ticking. We’re a year now since the referendum.

“We lost some time over the last seven weeks during the General Election campaign.

“Europe is ready to start these negotiations. Ireland is ready to sit with our 26 EU colleagues and commence the negotiations because uncertainty is the enemy of stability and uncertainty is the enemy of business.”

Asked if he would be against a delay, Mr Flanagan said: “We’re ready to roll. My understanding from all of my EU colleagues is that they’re ready to roll.

“It’s been said that Europe wishes to punish the UK, I see no evidence of that, I see no intention of that.”