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Dublin: 4°C Monday 12 April 2021

Leo says he won't be stopping his ministers at the airport if they want to travel to North Korea

“I am not the keeper of any of my ministers,” said the Taoiseach today.

pjimage (35) Leo Varadkar (top left) Independent Alliance members (bottom left) Kim Jong Un (right) Source: Press Association/Rollingnews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has confirmed there will be no government peace mission to North Korea.

Last week, the Junior Minister for Training and Skills John Halligan said he’d be prepared to go to North Korea to spark peace talks.

The Waterford TD said Minister for Transport Shane Ross and Minister of State for Disability Finian McGrath would also travel to North Korea. He insisted that the visit would not be a State one and would be paid for by the three politicians, taken during their own free time.

Halligan said that he hadn’t discussed the issue with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar or Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney.

Both have since slapped down the move from the junior ministers, with Varadkar stating over the weekend that he would not like anything “beastly” to happen to members of the Independent Alliance.

‘Not a keeper of my ministers’ 

When asked about the trip today, the Taoiseach said:

There isn’t going to be a government mission to North Korea. Minister for Foreign Affairs has been very clear on that. I am not the keeper of any of my ministers, so if they wish to travel to North Korea I am not going to be sending anyone to stop them at the airport, but certainly it won’t be a government one.

Halligan argues that any TD is at liberty to go to a country and visit.

“We’re not doing anything sensational, we’re not talking sides, we’re trying to initiate peace talks.

“[But] I do think the government should get involved,” he added.

“I think there’s an inevitability [about it],” he said. “We’ve two choices, will there be war or will there be talks, will there be peace? We are prominent, neutral politicians, and we’re highly respected [around the world] for our neutrality.

We’ve nothing to lose? What is there to lose by attempting to talk peace with North Korea?

When asked what he would say to the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un if he met him, Halligan said: “I would ask him to engage with democracy.”

‘Promoting peace’ 

The Independent Alliance ministers defended their stance over the weekend, with Halligan tweeting that there should be “no issue with promoting peace through dialogue”.

Minister of State for Disabilities Finian McGrath tweeted:

Read Peace and Neutrality Alliance welcomes John Halligan’s request to go to North Korea to spark peace talks>

Read Taoiseach wouldn’t want anything ‘beastly’ to happen Independent Alliance TDs if they go to North Korea>

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