Sunday 22 April 2018

Varadkar expects UK's pledges to be 'fully delivered' in coming months

Restraint: European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee
Restraint: European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee

Cormac McQuinn and Niall O'Connor

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar expects the commitments made by the UK to move on to the next phase of Brexit talks to be "fully delivered" on in the months ahead.

Mr Varadkar emphasised the "huge impact" Brexit would have on Ireland.

He also referred to last month's deal that saw the EU agree to move on to phase two talks on trade after the UK gave guarantees on the Border with Northern Ireland, the so-called divorce bill it will have to pay, and citizens' rights.

"What we want to ensure is that the commitments that were made by the United Kingdom in December when we moved from phase one to phase two of the talks are now fully delivered on and written into the withdrawal agreement and the transition agreement in the months ahead," he said.

Mr Varadkar was speaking as he met Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, whose country holds the presidency of the EU Council for the next six months.

The Taoiseach said Ireland wanted a good relationship between the UK and EU after Brexit and continued free trade. He explained how the communities in Northern Ireland were divided between Irish and British identities, but that there was currently no hard Border and free movement of people and goods was allowed.

However, yesterday, European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee admitted that relations between Ireland and the UK had become "strained" as a result of the intense Brexit negotiations.

Ms McEntee insisted Irish ministers were not prepared to engage in public fights or name-calling in a thinly veiled swipe at pro-Brexit politicians.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms McEntee said the Government was determined not to fall out with the UK as the Brexit negotiations prepared to enter phase two.

"They have been (strained) somewhat but when you have two points of view on the same issue you're going to have different voices, different views and you're going to have strain," she said. "Again, I think that's why we refrained from calling names, we refrained from getting into a spat because when you start saying things like that it's hard to take them back."

Irish Independent

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