Leo Varadkar confirms he will attend Belfast Pride breakfast
Taoiseach also rejects DUP criticism of the Government ahead of Northern Ireland talks
Leo Varadkar has confirmed he will attend a Pride breakfast event in Belfast on Saturday morning. Photograph: Getty Images
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has confirmed he will attend a Pride breakfast event in Belfast on Saturday morning after meeting Northern Ireland party leaders on Friday.
Asked if he would attend the Pride parade and if he was conscious of sensitivities with the DUP, which is opposed to equal marriage, Mr Varadkar said he would not be making any compromises for anyone.
“I won’t be able to attend the parade because I want to get back to Croke Park for the match,” he said, referring to the senior football quarter-final between Dublin and Monaghan.
“But I will attend the Pride breakfast on Saturday morning in Belfast to express my support for equality before the law for Catholics, Protestants, non-religious people, men, women, gay people and straight people. And I won’t be making any compromises about that for anyone really.”
Mr Varadkar said the main reason he was going to Belfast on Friday was to meet with leaders of the Northern parties.
They will discuss Brexit and the political stalemate at Stormont as part of a “low-key diplomacy” strategy that will also see Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney spend time in the North towards the end of the month.
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Deliver a speech
Mr Varadkar will also deliver a speech at Queen’s University Belfast on Friday. His address will focus on the future of the relationship between the Republic and Northern Ireland.
He will also meet business and civic society leaders on Friday, before attending the Pride breakfast event in the Northern Whig bar and restaurant on Saturday morning.
Speaking in Dublin on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar denied the DUP charge that his Government was involved in “megaphone” diplomacy following his declaration that Ireland would not design a hard Border for “Brexiteers”.
He said he rejected the contention from Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.
“I’ve never been involved in megaphone politics. I express the position of the Government in relation to Brexit, and it’s my role as Taoiseach to express the position of the Government, and to do so publicly.”
He said representatives of the DUP, Sinn Féin and other parties in Northern Ireland were free to outline their positions forcefully.
Mr Varadkar said he wanted the United Kingdom to stay in the Customs Union and the Single Market, so there would be “no need for any border of any consequence”.
He said the best way Northern parties could influence Brexit would be to get the Stormont Executive back up and running.
Earlier, Sir Jeffrey accused Mr Varadkar of “going back to the politics of the 1970s and 1980s in Anglo-Irish relations”.
“We have to co-operate here. A solution has to be one that is agreed, and that means Dublin has to have an input,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.
“If Dublin refuses to co-operate on this inevitably we are going to end up in a different arrangement that could result in some sort of hard Border. Now, that’s not in Dublin’s interests – the Irish economy would suffer greatly if we can’t find an agreed way forward.”