Tuesday 20 March 2018

Varadkar confident of powersharing deal in Northern Ireland

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Tom Burke
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is to travel to London to meet British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday for discussions on Brexit and Northern Ireland.

He said he wants to know to what extent, if at all, the British approach to leaving the European Union has changed since the UK General Election.

Conservative Prime Minister Mrs May lost her majority in the election and needs the support of Northern Ireland’s DUP to continue in government.

Mr Varadkar met DUP leader Arlene Foster in Dublin today and also held talks a Sinn Féin delegation that included its leader in the North, Michelle O’Neill.

The Northern Ireland power-sharing Executive collapsed earlier this year and fresh elections will be required unless there is a deal by the end of the month.

Mr Varadkar said that he is “encouraged and a little more confident that it is going to be possible to re-establish the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly before the deadline of June 29.

“I think both sides want to do that,” he added.

The Taoiseach said the meeting with the two parties was “helpful” in advance of his trip to London next week.

He said he’ll be speaking with Mrs May about “a renewed commitment by the two governments as co-equal guarantors of the [Good Friday] Agreement to work together to ensure that the Executive is established before the 29th of June”.

He added: “Obviously we’re going to have a discussion around Brexit” saying he wants to learn from her “to what extent if at all British policy has changed”.

Mr Varadkar also told RTÉ News a that he will “raise with her once again the particular concerns that we have in Ireland about the impact on the border, about trade and the freedom of citizens to move freely between our two islands and to transact in the normal way that we have done for centuries.”

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