The Government has denied it is "scaremongering" over "despicable, low and rotten" claims Brexit could see a return to violence in Northern Ireland after a DUP politician accused it of using victims of the Troubles.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney were forced to reject the claim after DUP MP Sammy Wilson said their use of dead people is scraping the "barrel of threats, deception and rhetoric".
Speaking as the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier admitted the entire Brexit talks could sink due to the gaping hole caused by the Irish border stand-off, Mr Wilson lashed out at recent concerns a hard border could cause violence to erupt.
Noting Mr Varadkar's warning at the start of the EU summit on Wednesday evening about the fears shootings and bombings could return, Mr Wilson said the remarks are not acceptable.
"His [Mr Varadkar's] latest use of a victim of the IRA who was killed when the republican terrorists blew up a border post scrapes the bottom of the very deep barrel of threats, deception and rhetoric which he has dipped into in order to persuade ignorant heads of EU states that the EU must insist in detaching Northern Ireland from the UK in any Brexit deal," Mr Wilson claimed, adding:
"His behaviour is despicable, low and rotten.
Asked about the the threat of violence yesterday on the final day of the EU summit in Brussels, Mr Varadkar said "it's not something that's going to be centre stage in the negotiations because the negotiations are very much about a solution".
However, he added the concern a no Brexit deal could lead to deaths "is certainly something that's in the back of my mind as a potential consequence if we get this wrong".
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster Mr Coveney went further, saying:
“We are not trying to scaremonger here, what we are trying to do here is protect a very precious peace and normality on the island of Ireland.
“If you speak to families living on the border area they will talk in very emotive terms about their fears of the re-emergence of that border infrastructure and it’s important to be honest about that.
[timgcap=Simon Coveney meeting Boris Johnson last January]borisJohnsonSimonCoveneyJan18_large.jpg[/timg]
The latest war of words between the DUP and the Government came as EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier the failure to solve the Irish border stand-off has the potential to bring down the entire Brexit talks process.
“The answer is yes,” he said when asked on France Inter radio if the Irish border issue could cause the negotiations to collapse.
Meanwhile, a Government spokesperson yesterday said Mr Varadkar has held a series of meetings throughout the EU summit with German chancellor Angela Merkel, dismissing British media reports she wants Ireland to soften its tone on the border issue.