Friday 23 August 2019

No deal will make more in North question the union, says Varadkar

Serious questions: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says people in the North will question ‘where they feel more at home’
Serious questions: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says people in the North will question ‘where they feel more at home’
Hugh O'Connell

Hugh O'Connell

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that more and more people in the North "will come to question the union" in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Varadkar has also signalled that the Government would have to consider a white paper or a forum on Irish unity in the event of a no-deal Brexit, but cautioned that to do so now would be "provocative".

He told the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, that a hard Brexit "raises very serious questions about the future of Northern Ireland".

He said he didn't know wh he would see a united Ireland in his lifetime.

However, he said liberal protestants and unionists would start to question whether they felt at home in a Britain that was talking about the return of the death penalty.

This was a reference to previous remarks made by new Home Secretary Priti Patel. In 2011, she said she supported the reintroduction of capital punishment, but later said she no longer supported such a move.

"I do think more and more people certainly in the event of no deal, more and more people in Northern Ireland will come to question the union," he said.

"People who you might describe as moderate Catholics or moderate nationalists who are more or less happy with the status quo will look more towards a united Ireland and I think increasingly you see liberal protestants and liberal unionists starting to ask the question as to where they feel more at home.

"Is it in a nationalist Britain that's talking about potentially bringing back the death penalty and things like that or is it part of a common European home and part of Ireland?

"I think one of the things ironically that could really undermine the union is a hard Brexit both for Northern Ireland and for Scotland and that's a problem they're going to have to face."

Mr Varadkar also said that while the DUP was "in a privileged position at the moment" in holding the balance of power in Westminster, it must be "smart enough to realise that the kind of influence they have now is probably not going to last very long".

Irish Independent

Also in Business