Varadkar ‘reassured’ any DUP-Tory deal will not undermine Belfast Agreement

Taoiseach expressed concerns to UK prime minister about possible impact of any deal

British prime minister Theresa May has called for a 'seamless border' between Ireland and the UK as she meets with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in London. Video: Reuters

 

The Taoiseach has said he is “very reassured” that any deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) at Westminster will not undermine the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday Agreement).

Speaking at 10 Downing Street following a meeting with Theresa May on Monday, Mr Varadkar said he had expressed to the prime minister his concerns about the possible impact of any such deal on the talks to restore an Executive in Northern Ireland.

“We spoke about the very important need for both governments to be impartial actors when it comes to Northern Ireland and that we are co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, and that any agreement that may exist between the Conservatives and the DUP should not in any way impact on the Good Friday Agreement,” he said. “I am very reassured by what the prime minister said to me today that that won’t be the case.”

Ms May said that negotiations with the DUP about supporting a minority Conservative government were continuing ahead of the Queen’s speech on Wednesday, which will lay out the government’s legislative programme.

“We are talking about a confidence and supply agreement with them,” she said. “On reaching such an agreement we will make sure that the details of that are made public so that people can see exactly what that is based on. As a UK Government we remain absolutely steadfast in our commitment to the Belfast Agreement, its successor agreements.”

Both the prime minister and the Taoiseach expressed confidence that the parties in Northern Ireland would be able to reach an agreement on restoring the Assembly and the Executive by the June 29th deadline.

Ms May restated her commitment to maintaining the Common Travel Area after Britain leaves the EU and ensuring that the Border remains as frictionless as possible. “I am personally committed to ensuring a practical solution that recognises the unique economic, social, cultural and political context of the land border with Ireland – which so many people pass through every day and it remains our priority to work closely with the Irish Government to ensure a frictionless and seamless a border as possible,” she said.

Mr Varadkar offered condolences on behalf of the Irish people for the terrorist attacks and other tragedies which have hit Britain, especially London, in recent weeks. “London is a very important city for Irish people and I think pretty much everyone in Ireland has someone who lives here or who’s a relative of theirs or a close friend. So when there’s an attack on London we feel in Ireland that it’s almost an attack on us as well,” he said.

Asked about the controversy surrounding the appointment of former attorney general Maire Whelan to the Court of Appeal, the Taoiseach said he would have preferred if it had not overshadowed his first week in office. But he said he stood over the decision to appoint her, which he insisted was in accordance with precedent, proper procedure and the law.