The DUP will not take part in a Citizens' Assembly in Dublin for a united Ireland, Arlene Foster has said.

DUP leader Arlene Foster with deputy leader Nigel Dodds at the party's election manifesto launch
DUP leader Arlene Foster with deputy leader Nigel Dodds at the party's election manifesto launch
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Sinn Fein has been calling for the establishment of an all-Ireland Citizens' Assembly to discuss the potential for Irish unity.

Sinn Fein has been calling for the establishment of an all-Ireland Citizens' Assembly to discuss the potential for Irish unity.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he would not rule out a Citizens' Assembly but questioned whether unionists living in Northern Ireland would take part in it.

Mr Varadkar said if unionists living in Northern Ireland did not take part in the Citizens' Assembly, it would risk becoming a "pan-nationalist" assembly.

DUP leader Ms Foster told BBC Radio Ulster her party would not take part in a Citizens' Assembly despite reports her party colleague Nigel Dodds said the DUP would.

The Irish News reported on Friday that Mr Dodds said the DUP will consider proposals for a Citizens' Assembly examining Irish unity but that dialogue must be conducted "first and foremost" through political representatives.

Mrs Foster said that is not the position of the party.

"Well, Nigel thought that question was relating to the civic arena in Northern Ireland and not a Citizens' Assembly in the Republic of Ireland," she said.

"We will not be involving ourselves in any all-Ireland civic forum because we believe in the Union," she said.

"In fact, if you read our manifesto and if you read our 12-point plan, you will see that we're very much focusing on next generation unionism.

"We want to build Northern Ireland inside the United Kingdom in a very strong way, have the United Kingdom Cabinet meetings here in Northern Ireland, have a reform of the British-Irish Council so it is more meaningful and to look at the joint ministerial council meetings which take place between Westminster, Scotland, Wales and ourselves so that is a more meaningful process."

"We're not focusing on a united Ireland; we're focused on the United Kingdom and building a stronger United Kingdom," she said.

Mr Varadkar said on Tuesday if unionists living in Northern Ireland did not take part in the Citizens' Assembly, it would skew the results.

He said: "I think we need to bear in mind - would unionists participate in the Citizens' Assembly? A million of them, making up half the population in Northern Ireland on a very significant minority on this island. Would British citizens living in Northern Ireland participate in the Citizens' Assembly?

"And if they would not, that would fundamentally change the nature of that Citizens' Assembly, because it would seek to discuss the constitutional future of this island."