Arlene Foster said the Taoiseach’s threats were “Project Fear Mark two” following a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johhnson. Last week Leo Varadkar said moderate unionists and nationalists could question being part of the UK if they are forced into a hard Brexit. But the DUP leader said: “It is project fear mark 2 from the Taoiseach.” She said he had behaved “crassly” towards victims of the Northern Ireland conflict in the past.
“He needs to dial down the rhetoric, he needs to recognise the mandate of the Prime Minister and he needs to engage.
“He needs to get engaged and he needs to find a way forward.”
She said Mr Johnson was not entertaining “talk of a border poll in Northern Ireland” and would “never be neutral on the union”, but he will be impartial on issues related to Stormont.
The head of the Northern Ireland party that is propping up Mr Johnson’s government said she believed a Brexit deal can be done between Britain and the EU to break the impasse over the Irish border.
Speaking in Belfast, she said: “There are ways to deal with this issue if there is a willingness on both sides. So I hope Dublin will dial down the rhetoric and there will be a willingness to engage with our prime minister.
“What we want to see is a sensible way forward that sees whole of UK leaving the EU.”
Mrs Foster said Mr Johnson told her he would never be neutral on the Union, but would act in a neutral way in the administration of governance in Northern Ireland.
“You shouldn’t confuse the two and today I have heard those two matters confused quite regularly,” she said.
“He’ll never be neutral on the Union and talk of a border poll was not something he was entertaining.
READ MORE: Sinn Fein demands chance to rip Northern Ireland out of UK if no deal Brexit pursued
“Let’s get real here, the idea that many unionists will turn around and vote for a united Ireland on the basis of the current developments, I think, is something that is not reflected in the reality of people on the ground.”
On confidence and supply, Mr Dodds challenged Sinn Fein to rule out becoming a coalition partner in any future Irish government.
“If they criticise that so strongly as being contrary to the Good Friday Agreement then clearly they will not want to have anything to do with a future Dublin government, which they describe as the co-guarantors of the agreement, or perhaps they are being somewhat selective in their approach to this particular issue,” he said.
The new Tory leader held talks in Northern Ireland today in a bid to untangle an impasse over the Irish border “backstop” that has scuppered all efforts to secure an orderly withdrawal from the European Union.
He told Northern Irish parties he would stand by the government’s commitment to the Irish peace agreement and a pledge not to return to a hard border whatever the result of Brexit.
Political powersharing has been suspended for two-and-a-half years and the Prime Minister said he is urging the parties to restore the institutions.
Negotiations are ongoing but there is little sign of an imminent breakthrough.
Brexit was high on the agenda of many of the parties who met the new British premier.
A spokeswoman for the prime minister said: “The discussions also included Brexit, where the prime minister made clear that the UK would be leaving the EU on October 31st come what may, and restated his intention to do so with a deal.