Stormont’s First Minister has defended the Irish Taoiseach’s right to voice an opinion on Brexit, but warned that people in Northern Ireland “don’t take too kindly to people telling us what to do”.
Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster’s comments came after DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds characterised Enda Kenny’s remarks about a UK exit from the EU as “disrespectful and counter-productive”.
After holding talks with Prime Minister David Cameron at Downing Street on Monday, Mr Kenny warned that leaving the EU would could create “serious difficulties for Northern Ireland”.
While not the first occasion the Taoiseach had raised concern about the impact of Brexit north of the border, his remarks prompted a robust response from Mr Dodds.
In turn, Fianna Fail’s spokesman on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith described Mr Dodds’ comments as a “regrettable throwback to a time of cross-border insults and groundless suspicion”.
Commenting on the exchanges, Mrs Foster told RTE: “It will be for the people of the UK to decide what’s the best way forward. And we don’t take too kindly to people telling us what to do.”
She added: “I am saying to Enda: if you have an opinion, that’s your right to have that opinion, and if you want to express it, that’s your right as well, but we here in Northern Ireland will make our own determination in relation to Europe.”