Leo Varadkar offers guarantee of no border on island of Ireland
Tánaiste says negotiations under way for EU citizenship for NI citizens post-Brexit
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: “I have made it very clear to my counterpart in the UK and to the other EU prime ministers that under no circumstances will there be a border. Full stop.” Photograph: Colin Keegan, Collins
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has given “a full stop” guarantee that there will be no border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after the United Kingdom quits the European Union.
“We stand by the backstop, we stand by the text of Northern Ireland Irish protocol as it is and we must insist that it be included in the withdrawal agreement unless there is a better alternative,” he told the Dáil.
Given mounting concern about the lack of progress in the talks ahead of the June EU council summit, he said October has always been the key deadline in the process.
Replying to Labour’s Joan Burton, he said the Government was “not drawing up any plans for a border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Full stop.
“I have made it very clear to my counterpart in the UK and to the other EU prime ministers that under no circumstances will there be a border. Full stop,” he went on.
Later, Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the Government was “effectively discussing a birthright to EU citizenship” for Irish passport-holders in Northern Ireland “even though they will be born outside the EU. That is new.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader, Michele O’Neill has demanded a Border poll after it emerged that prime minister Theresa May had warned that such a poll could be won by nationalists.
Replying to Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg who argued such a poll could be defeated, she said: “I would not be as confident as you. That’s not a risk I’m prepared to take.”
The Belfast Agreement states a Border poll can be called “if at any time it appears likely” that a majority in Northern Ireland would favour a united Ireland, rather than staying in the UK.
If the reports of the May/Rees-Moggs exchange are accurate, Ms O’Neill said Ms May was “conceding that the Good Friday Agreement threshold for triggering a unity poll has been met”.