Taoiseach brands comments by UK's Brexit Secretary as 'strange and inaccurate'

David Davis claimed there was "quite a strong influence from Sinn Féin" on the Irish government's Brexit stance

Taoiseach brands comments by UK's Brexit Secretary as 'strange and inaccurate'

Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

The Taoiseach has described the latest comments from the British Brexit Secretary as "strange and inaccurate".

David Davis said the lack of progress over a deal on the border with Northern Ireland was because of Sinn Féin's influence over the Irish Government.

Speaking at a conference in London, he also suggested the recent change of Taoiseach had led to a delay in a deal.

In comments quoted by the Irish Times, Mr Davis argued: "We had a change of government, south of the border, and with quite a strong influence from Sinn Féin, and that had an impact in terms of the approach."

After audience members suggested there was no change of government in the Republic, Mr Davis added: “Well you had a change of leader or a change in Taoiseach. [Sinn Féin has] been playing a strong political role which they haven’t done historically, that I hadn’t foreseen."

However, Leo Varadkar says Mr Davis' claims are not correct.

He said: "I think the comments were strange and a little bit inaccurate.

"I probably shouldn't say any more about them than that, except to say when it comes to Brexit the only interest the Irish Government is defending and promoting is the interests of the people of Ireland - both in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland. That means avoiding a hard border, and holding the British government to its committment that there will be no hard border."

"We're certainly not taking directions from them"

Mr Varadkar added that 'of course' the Government listens to Sinn Féin, observing: "It's a political party in Northern Ireland, and it's a political party here in the Republic of Ireland. But ultimately it's the second party in the North, and the third party here in the Republic.

"I don't think it has any more influence on the policy of the Irish government than the Liberal Democrats or the SNP has on the policies of the British government. That's not to say we don't listen to what they have to say, but we're certainly not taking directions from them."

Last November, Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney rubbished as 'nonsense' a British media report which claimed that the Government was only starting to fight against a hard border in Ireland.

It came after The Sun claimed that the Irish stance had hardened because of pressure from Sinn Féin.