Sunday 21 January 2018

Varadkar's warning to Theresa May: 'Don't get too close to DUP'

Warning British government cannot be 'too close' to any particular party in Northern Ireland

Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Incoming Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has warned that the British government cannot be “too close” to any particular party in Northern Ireland if it is to fulfil its commitments under the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Varadkar said the governments in Dublin and London need to “recognise” their unique responsibilities under the agreement and that he will be reminding Theresa May of these when they speak.

“Our role as governments is to act as co-guarantors, not to be too close to any particular party in the North, whether it’s nationalist parties or unionist parties. That’s certainly something I will emphasis in any contacts that I have with Prime Minister May,” he said.

The Fine Gael leader was speaking after Taoiseach Enda Kenny raised “concerns” about Mrs May’s decision to ask the DUP to prop up a minority government.

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar

However, Mr Varadkar said he also see potential from the ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement based on the DUP’s vision for a soft Brexit.

“They want to maintain the common travel area and want to maintain free trade between these islands and Britain and Europe. So I do think there’s an opportunity to soften Brexit. But that all remains to be seen,” Mr Varadkar said.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys, who is from the border region, revealed that she spoke with DUP leader Arlene Foster yesterday and was upbeat about the prospect of a softer Brexit that could see a frictionless border remain between the North and the Republic.

“I was in Northern Ireland yesterday and Arlene Foster did say that she hopes there will be a softer Brexit.

“That’s so important to those of us who live right on the border because thousands of people travel over and back to whatever side of the border they are working on. That is so important to us as is trade and the peace process is absolute priority for the government,” Ms Humphreys said.

Online Editors

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