Foster’s blood and thunder
Foster’s blood and thunder


DUP leader Arlene Foster has described her party’s opposition to a deal in Brexit negotiations that would result in new checks on goods moving across the Irish Sea as a “red line” that is “blood red”.

In a phrase that echoed Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood”, the DUP leader appeared to signal the potential for unionist violence if her party fails to veto a deal that would result in “a differential” between the north of Ireland and Britain.

“There cannot be a border down the Irish Sea, a differential between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK,” she told the BBC. “The red line is blood red.”

Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill said the DUP leader has “lost the run of herself” and described the remarks as “absolutely bizarre”.

The DUP’s 10 MPs prop up British prime minister Theresa May’s minority Conservative government. Mrs Foster has insisted that the DUP will vote against the British Prime Minister in any proposal that would result in new checks on goods moving across the Irish Sea, threatening a general election.

When asked if she was prepared to vote down Ms May on a Brexit deal, Ms Foster said her party would prefer not to be “in that position”.

“This is too important to be playing around with things because this is the union - this is what brought me into politics,” she said.

Mrs Foster also suggested that the 1998 Good Friday Agreement should be changed to allow for Brexit. To the fury of many in the North, she said the 1998 accord “wasn’t sacrosanct”.

Speaking to journalists at the Conservative Party conference, Ms Foster said: “It has been deeply frustrating to hear people who voted Remain and in Europe talk about Northern Ireland as though we can’t touch the Belfast Agreement. Things evolve, even in the EU context.

“There has been a lot of misinterpretation, holding it up as a sacrosanct piece of legislation.”

The DUP pointed to the precedent of the St Andrews Agreement in 2006, which significantly diluted the 1998 agreement without calling a referendum. Agreed among the two governments and the main political parties, the deal resulted in a decade of political stasis and financial scandal which ended when the Stormont Assembly finally collapsed in January 2017!.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar rejecting DUP suggestions the agreement could be diluted once again.

He told the Dublin parliament it “is not a piece of British legislation”, implying his government would refuse to agree to a new deal.

Speaking in the Dail on Tuesday, the Fine Gael leader said: “While it may be factually correct to say that the Good Friday Agreement, just like any international treaty, could be changed, it can only be changed with the agreement of British and Irish governments and can only be changed with the consent of the people of Northern Ireland and indeed across cross-community consent.

“It is not something that can be changed by any one political party or by any one government.”

Sinn Fein accused the DUP of showing “a reckless disregard for the peace process”.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald insisted the Good Friday Agreement between the British and Dublin governments must not become a bargaining chip.

She reacted angrily after Mrs Foster suggested the terms of the agreement could be altered in efforts to strike an EU exit deal.

“It should be remembered that Arlene Foster left the UUP, which supported the Good Friday Agreement, to join the anti-agreement DUP,” she added.

“It appears the DUP leader has learnt nothing over the past 15 years.

“Brexit is incompatible with the Good Friday Agreement. The actions of the DUP and their deal with the Tories is bad for our economy and undermines the rights of citizens.”

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