08 February 2019
DUP Leader Arlene Foster MLA and the Party’s Deputy Leader Nigel Dodds MP have met the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in Belfast.
The DUP’s MEP for Northern Ireland Diane Dodds also attended the meeting.
Speaking afterwards Mrs Foster said,
“We had a wide ranging discussion with the Taoiseach. As our nearest neighbours, we want to have a healthy relationship with the Republic of Ireland which is based on mutual respect.
We want to see a deal between the European Union and the United Kingdom before the 29th March. It should be a deal which works for London, Dublin, Brussels and Belfast.
Ultimately, there can only be an ‘agreement’ if it can command the necessary support in the House of Commons. If there is genuine political will, then a deal is possible. Northern Ireland should stand as a reminder to the Taoiseach of how we have overcome many greater obstacles in the past.
It was important for the Taoiseach to understand that the views of unionists cannot be ignored. The EU must respect that, for unionists, a new border east-west is no more acceptable than a new border north-south. The draft withdrawal agreement was unacceptable because it would cut Northern Ireland off from the rest of the United Kingdom and create a democratic deficit in Belfast.
We will test any new draft withdrawal agreement against its impact on the Union and whether it respects the referendum result.
It is regrettable that at this time of change, the devolved government in Stormont is not functioning. We remain committed to restoring the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive. We would appoint Ministers immediately but Sinn Fein’s boycott is holding the whole of Northern Ireland to ransom.”