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Dublin: 13 °C Sunday 21 October, 2018
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IT’S THE DAY after the Brexit fallout and Leaders’ Questions was dominated by queries about just what went wrong and more to the point, who’s to blame.

Micheál Martin and of course he is talking about Brexit.

He says he welcomed the wording and thanks the Taoiseach for his briefings.

Last week there was a lot of talk about the civil servants not doing their jobs, he is full of their praise this week and how they dealt with negotiations.

Martin says the unionist issues need to be dealt with and respected.

He says it should not be used as an opportunity to push for a border poll. He says the fallout now does not serve the people of Northern Ireland well.

The FF leader says they must limit the damage that Brexit poses.

He has concerns about the tone used, and says yesterday’s events were damaging. He asks the Taoiseach to agree with him that we must now reach out to the unionists.

Leo Varadkar says he also wants to acknowledge the work done.

He says he regrets yesterday’s events and that a deal could not be done.

“We want to move on to phase two,” he adds.

He highlights that there is a lot to talk about – such as aviation – but he says Ireland needs reassurances about the promises made about the border.

“The ball is in London’s court.”

“We are happy that there is more time,” he adds.

“There is time to put this agreement back on track.”

He says Theresa May is handling the “difficulties” and they await to hear from them.

This govt and this parliament respects the Good Friday Agreement in all its parts, he adds.

He wants to mention the nationalist people too. There isn’t just one party in the north, says Varadkar, and points out that the  majority of people voted against Brexit.

The Taoiseach says that not having a hold up in getting a Northern Ireland Executive up and running has been damaging in this mess.

“Unfortunately, we have to deal with the situation as we find it,” he says.

He says there has been a lot of work going on to help it get re-established, while also carrying out Brexit negotiations.

Varadkar says when a deal is done it will be made between the UK government and Europe, which Ireland is a part of, and not with one party, namely the DUP.

Screenshot 2017-12-05 at 14.12.16

Gerry Adams says he always said that the deal with the DUP and the UK government (that they are propping them up) would always end in tears.

He says he genuinely wishes Varadkar and Coveney all the best in their negotiations.

Adams says that people might dance around the language, but he says Varadkar says he must defend Ireland against the “narrow interests of the DUP and the English Tories”.

Screenshot 2017-12-05 at 14.15.21

Leo Varadkar disagrees with rumours of briefings coming from the UK that the wording of the text was not agreed to yesterday. It was, he states, and highlights the timeline.

He says it was only until lunchtime that it came apparent there was an issue.

However he admits in these negotiations there is never a deal done until there are signatures on the dotted line. Had an agreement been done yesterday, it still could have fallen apart today, he adds.

The agreement we had yesterday, we still believe we have, he says.

If the people were asked about this agreement, he believes they would support it.

Adams says No. 10 is briefing that, but he points out that he is not saying to the Taoiseach that it is true.

Screenshot 2017-12-05 at 14.22.53

“The Good Friday Agreement will be destroyed. Don’t let that happen on your watch,” Adams tells the Taoiseach.

Rare to see such unity on an issue in the Dáil – but Varadkar extends his thanks to all parties, including Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin on the issue.

Speaking about the DUP, Varadkar says: “Having asked us for many months now to start engaging in options about avoiding a hard border… they’ve now decided they don’t want to have that conversation.”

Varadkar says there were a number of options about texts featuring “regulatory divergence” and “alignment”.

He says it was decided over the weekend that they could accept both.

He says people keep saying they don’t want a hard border – but now it is down to how to achieve this.

“I don’t see how we can proceed,” says Taoiseach.

“We have to hold firm,” he adds.

Varadkar says relations with the UK “have been strained” in recent years.

He says it was probably at its best during the Queen’s visit.

Labour’s Brendan Howlin says he spoke to Labour party’s in the UK last night, who were shocked that the deal fell at the last hurdle.

Varadkar admits that yesterday it went “pear-shaped”.

He says they are in daily contact with the negotiating team.

He says the government were not in a position to build houses for many years but he says we are starting to see a ramping up of builds.

Next year, local authorities will build 3,800 and more will be built from non-local authority agencies.

He says there have been more than ten homes built in the constituency, which he shares with Coppinger.

Varadkar says she boycotts the launches of homes he goes to because they are not built directly from by a local authority. But he says they are real homes to the people that are living in them.

Varadkar says he would look at Damastown proposal and her claim that it would pay for itself. He says he doubts that, but if that is the case, this government would be mad not to consider it.

He asks her to reconsider her position that just because houses are not built by local authorities they are not social housing units. He says there are a number of housing charities that build homes which are social houses.

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