It is now clear that Dublin sees Brexit negotiations as an opportunity to weaken or change Northern Ireland`s current status as an integral part of the United Kingdom, says UUP leader Robin Swann.
Mr Swann asked: “Has the Taoiseach given the game away about the Republic of Ireland`s true intentions when it was reported yesterday that he said that special status is on the table for Northern Ireland during the Brexit negotiations?”
The MLA was speaking after Gavan Reilly, Political correspondent with Irish television news channel Virgin Media, reported Mr Varadkar as saying: “What`s on the table now is a special status for Northern Ireland which could be an advantageous position”.
Mr Swann said the Irish government has ignored repeated pleas from the UUP.
“Despite numerous meetings with his government, despite the principle of consent being embedded at the heart of the Belfast Agreement and despite my colleagues and I cautioning them to be mindful of the rhetoric they use, it is clear that the Irish Government see these Brexit negotiations as an opportunity to attempt to weaken or change Northern Ireland`s current status as an integral part of the United Kingdom,” he said. “His comments will be interpreted by unionists as an attack on the sovereignty of Northern Ireland.
“Let me be very clear, if that`s the direction which he and his government are heading in, it won`t do much for relationships on these islands. This sort of intransigent language which pays scant regard to the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent certainly won`t help reach a sensible Brexit agreement. Instead of winding the situation up, both he and Simon Coveney should let the negotiators get on with it, without the interruption of sound bites from the Taoiseach and his Foreign Affairs Minister.”
Mr Swann warned Dublin that in the event of the failure to secure a deal which respects the Belfast Agreement and the principle of consent it`s not only Northern Ireland which will suffer. “The Republic of Ireland`s economy will also be on the receiving end of a chill wind.”