Newton Emerson: A New Ireland, or just a bigger Republic?

Will nationalists accept Varadkar’s argument that unification requires constitutional change?

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald during Féile an Phobail’s leaders’ debate, at St Mary’s University College, Belfast.  Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald during Féile an Phobail’s leaders’ debate, at St Mary’s University College, Belfast. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been having a good week in Northern Ireland, pressing the flesh at numerous engagements and striking the right tone in interviews and statements. Of most significance for the immediate future was an encounter with DUP chief whip Jeffrey Donaldson at Hillsborough Castle, the queen’s official residence.

Donaldson is MP for the area so the meeting was a formal courtesy, but it had the optics of a leadership summit and both men encouraged that appearance. Dublin and the DUP are working on a Brexit understanding.

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