The Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Robin Swann MLA, has led a delegation to meet with the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today.
Prior to the meeting Mr Swann said:
“Relationships between the United Kingdom and our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland have been built up over decades and no matter what happens the Republic will still be the UK`s closest neighbour post-Brexit. So on that basis it is incumbent on the Republic of Ireland`s Government to play a constructive role in maintaining good relations.
“I understand the concern raise by Brexit, but we should not allow the raised political temperature and reckless language used this week to cause long term damage to our future relationships. The fact is the most sensible solution will be found in honest and pragmatic discussions between the UK and the Republic of Ireland.
“There needs to be a realism in Dublin that recognises the genuine concerns of unionists. The backstop is unacceptable because it contravenes the principle of consent. The EU should not see this as an opportunity to make a land grab and annex part of the United Kingdom. The dismissal of these concerns will inevitably have long lasting consequences for relationships north and south of the border. Equating opposition to the backstop as beckoning the return of violence is an extremely dangerous and foolhardy position for the Republic of Ireland`s Government to take. It is providing justification in advance for those who may attempt to turn the clock back.
“As regards working towards the return of devolution, I couldn`t be any clearer – the responsibility for calling talks rests with the UK Government and the Secretary of State Karen Bradley. That should be her priority. We cannot allow Sinn Fein to act as a roadblock to progress. The Irish Government has a constructive role to play but it has to be under the long established three stranded approach which respects the Belfast Agreement.”