Sunday 13 October 2019

'Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement' - Taoiseach on 'fraying relationship between Britain and Ireland'

Preparation: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney at the Brexit event. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA
Preparation: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Simon Coveney at the Brexit event. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Newsdesk Newsdesk

Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement which ended thirty years of violence in Northern Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

"Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement and is fraying the relationship between Britain and Ireland," he told RTE's Marian Finucane show.

The border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit has been one of the major sticking points in Britain's negotiations to leave the European Union in March next year.

"Anything that pulls the communities apart in Northern Ireland undermines the Good Friday Agreement, and anything that pulls Britain and Ireland apart undermines that relationship," Varadkar added.

He said that we need a guarantee that, whatever happens, we won't see the emergence of a hard border in Ireland.

Recent reports suggest that there is growing optimism that the 'moment of truth' is coming after months of painful negotiations between the EU and UK.

Sources say the UK government is now determined to find an answer to get the so-called 'Irish question' over the line in the coming days.

Theresa May's divided cabinet could meet as early as Tuesday to thrash out the final wording, in a move that would facilitate a special meeting of EU leaders on November 21 and 22.

Mr Varadkar added that he has a good relationship with DUP leader Arlene Foster, and he was at dinner with her recently.

He said the DUP and Sinn Féin need to come to an agreement to get the Northern Ireland Assembly up and running again; and that if there was some clarity on Brexit shortly, there would be an opportunity to get the Executive up and running again.

Mr Varadkar also spoke about the housing crisis in Ireland and said that it has always been difficult to buy a home in Ireland.

“This year we will build 20,000 new homes and apartments in Ireland. That is more than any year in the last decade,” Leo Varadkar said on RTE's Marian Finucane show.

“You can’t ramp it up overnight there are constraints and people can make whatever complaints they like. You can only ramp up housing so much.

“It’s always been the case that people had to save up. My parents will tell me about the 1980s when they had interest of 16pc. A lot of people when they bought first home they were only able to furnish one room a year.

“It used to be the norm in Ireland that people would buy their first home in their 20s, I did. Now we find that the average person buying their first home is in their 30s.”

When asked about vulture funds, Mr Varadkar said they can benefit people struggling to pay their mortgage.

“Every case in genuinely different,” he said.

“You do see cases where banks and investment funds or vulture funds actually will do deals and you will find different circumstances where people don’t pay for different reason.

“We do have the rent-to-buy scheme where a housing association can come in and buy the house off the bank or off the investment fund and then charge you rent.”

Online Editors

Also in Business