Tuesday 16 October 2018

'The border issue is about much more than trade and money' - Leo Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Laura Hutton/PA)
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Laura Hutton/PA)

Shona Murray

The Irish border issue is about “much more than trade”, said Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today.

He was speaking at the New York stock exchange where he rang the Opening Bell.

“The issue of avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is about much more than trade and about much more than money," he said.

“It’s about maintaining our peace process and allowing people that live on either side of the border to continue to lead normal lives and to lead peaceful lives, just like they have for the last 20 years and something like that has to be of paramount importance.

“Our objective is to achieve both, to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and also to have a very close trading relationship with Britain," Mr Varadkar said.

He also struck a pessimistic tone when asked whether the UK government’s long-awaited White Paper on its future relationship with the EU will progress the impasse over Brexit.

“I really can’t comment on the British government’s White paper until we see it, and based on past experiences I’d really like to see it and read it before having an opinion on it," he said in New York today.

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet are meeting at her state retreat at Chequers for a think-in at the end of the week.

Both EU and Irish officials have cast doubts that the cabinet will be able to move on from their ‘cake’ proposals which ignores EU single market rules.

Mr Varadkar met with Ms May at the margins of an EU summit in Brussels where she gave him a vague idea of the British White Paper on trade.

He said he warned her not to bring a proposal which did not realistically take in to account EU rules on the Single Market.

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