DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has criticised Irish Government policy on Northern Ireland and Brexit.

In a speech to the Institute of European Affairs in Dublin this evening, Mr Donaldson said the Taoiseach had "subcontracted" Northern Ireland policy to the European Commission.

Mr Donaldson said instead of bringing in outsiders to lean on unionists, Leo Varadkar should have engaged in trilateral talks between Belfast, Dublin and London.

He said both Mr Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney knew from an early stage the border was a sensitive issue in Brexit, but said they chose to use it as a bargaining chip that could be used by Brussels.

Mr Donaldson said despite the absence of the political institutions in Northern Ireland, the Government could have done more to engage, understand and reach a consensus on ways forward, but failed to do so.

He also said the Government has sought a solution to Brexit - the backstop - which it must know does not have the support of unionists.

Mr Donaldson said the Government has abandoned the politics of consensus, and instead finds itself claiming to be a guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, whilst being at loggerheads with Westminster and unionism in Northern Ireland.

He said: "To be clear, the DUP does not want a hard border, does not desire and is not advocating for a no-deal outcome, but that is where we are heading unless there is a changed mindset in Dublin and Brussels."

Speaking to journalists after delivering his speech, Mr Donaldson reiterated his call for a time limit to be put on the backstop.

He said a time limit would address the genuine concerns that unionists have that the backstop would be indefinite in nature and have the potential to undermine the economic and constitutional integrity of the UK.

Mr Donaldson would not say how long or short a limit he would like to see, but said he hoped it would be much less than ten or 20 years.

He said what is required is dialogue and engagement and he said he believes a sensible and pragmatic solution that takes care of unionist concerns can be found.