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Varadkar says Brexit is 'fraying the relationship' between Ireland and Britain

Varadkar was speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucan Show this morning.

Image: Leah Farrell via RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement and is fraying relations between Ireland and Britain. 

Speaking to RTÉ Radio One’s Marian Finucane Show, Varadkar said that anything that pulls the two communities apart undermines the Good Friday Agreement. 

The Good Friday Agreement is seen as a political foundation for peace in Northern Ireland after decades of violence and uncertainty brought by the Troubles. A detailed analysis of the agreement can be read here

The Irish border has proved to be one of the major sticking points in Brexit negotiations to date. 

“Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement and it is fraying the relationship between Britain and Ireland,” Varadkar said. 

“Anything that pulls the communities apart in Northern Ireland undermines the Good Friday Agreement, and anything that pulls Britain and Ireland apart undermines that relationship,” he said.

Yesterday, Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Britain’s Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington said they “hoped and expected” that Brexit negotiators would secure a final agreement in the coming weeks, adding that both sides are very close with getting it over the line.

The Tánaiste said a number of things are still required, stating that negotiators on both sides still have no basis as of yet to indicate political sign off if an EU summit is called. 

At yesterday’s meeting, it was agreed “top level summits” alternating between Ireland and Britain each year would be held between the two government, and these would be backed-up by close bilateral work between ministers.

Lidington said such meetings would be “vital” to maintain the close links between the two countries, due to ministers and leaders not being able to meet regularly at EU summits, as is typically the case. 

Stormont deadlock

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Varadkar also went on to say he has a good relationship with DUP leader Arlene Foster. 

He said the DUP and Sinn Féin need to come together and come to an agreement to get the Northern Ireland Assembly up and running again. 

He added that if there was some clarity on Brexit in the next couple of weeks or months, there would be an opportunity to get the Executive up and running again. 

The government in Northern Ireland collapsed in January 2017 following the DUP’s and Sinn Féin’s failure to agree on a number of issues. 

Since then, British Prime Minister Theresa May’s government has resisted pressure to impose reform on Northern Ireland, arguing that decisions are best made in Belfast.

With reporting by Gráinne Ní Aodha and Christina Finn

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