THE NEW leader of the DUP has said the North's relationship with the Irish government is 'really, really bad' in an accusatory maiden speech.
Edwin Poots has officially replaced Arlene Foster as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party after a vote by the party's executive council last night.
Ms Foster was ousted as leader earlier this month after much of the party turned against her, some finding her to be too weak on issues such as abortion, others blaming her for the Northern Ireland Brexit Protocol which effectively puts a border in the Irish sea.
Mr Poots was last night ratified as leader following an open ballot vote, and issued his first speech to declare that the DUP was not a divided party-- after walkouts by Ms Foster, Jeffrey Donaldson, Dianne Dodds and Gareth Robinson, RTÉ News reports.
The new DUP leader used his maiden speech to accuse the leadership of the Republic of Ireland of planning to 'starve' the people of Northern Ireland of food and medicine.
He added that the North's relationship with the Irish government was "really, really bad", and targeted Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney in particular, as they had been in power during the Brexit negotiations.
They used fearmongering and threats, and "took photographs of blown up border posts" to ensure no hard border on the island of Ireland, which led to the border in the Irish sea and caused "a harshest form of customs and an internal market that doesn't exist anywhere else in the world", he argued.
"They’re going to starve Northern Ireland people of medicines, no less, cancer drugs and other materials such as the food that’s on our table" he said, saying it was a "shame on the Irish government" and particularly Fine Gael.
"So relationships are really, really bad with the Irish Government as a consequence", he said, before adding that he has respect for Taoiseach Micheál Martin.
Mr Poots is expected to make contact with the Irish government today after he officially becomes the DUP leader.