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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar Niall Carson/PA Images
Northern Ireland

Taoiseach is 'disappointed' with DUP's decision not to return to Stormont

Varadkar is in Brussels today for a meeting of EU leaders where the Windsor Framework will be discussed.

LAST UPDATE | 23 Mar 2023

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said that he is disappointed the DUP has chosen not to return to Stormont following the vote in the House of Commons yesterday on the Windsor Framework. 

Varadkar is in Brussels today for a meeting of EU leaders where the Windsor Framework will be discussed.

The leaders of 27 EU countries are also expected to discuss economic issues, energy and migration, and will meet the UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.

It comes after EU member states approved the framework on Tuesday, and after a key element of the EU-UK agreement – the Stormont brake – was endorsed by 515 votes to 29 in the House of Commons yesterday.

The DUP voted against it, with party leader Jeffrey Donaldson saying they wanted assurances that EU law could not impede Northern Ireland’s ability to trade with the rest of the UK.

Donaldson confirmed yesterday his party would not support the deal, adding this afternoon that it did feel enough progress had been made to return to government in Stormont. 

Speaking to reporters in Brussels, Varadkar has said he is “disappointed to hear” the DUP was not willing to re-enter the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Varadkar said people in Northern Ireland need politicians in Stormont to tackle “big problems”.

“We will continue to engage with the five major parties in Northern Ireland and the British government to do anything we can over the next weeks and months to get those institutions back up and running,” he said.

“I don’t think all is lost yet. I’d really like to see the institutions back up and running as it should be. I think it is premature to be talking about direct rule, quite frankly,” he said.

He added it was the position of the Government that direct rule was not provided for under the Good Friday Agreement. He welcomed the result of a vote in Westminster on the Stormont Brake.

“It allows us to go on and implement it in good faith,” he said. He said he was confident the UK government and European Union would implement the Windsor Framework.

The Taoiseach also said that Russian appeasement has “failed”. 

“Putin was allowed to occupy part of Georgia, he was then allowed to seize Crimea. It’s clear that appeasement has failed,” Varadkar said. 

“What we now need to ensure happens is that this attempt to invade Ukraine, to take its territory, to overthrow it’s government, fails, and that means supporting Ukraine in its fight and talking to other European governments,” he said. 

“Part of that means increasing the supply of ammunitions, not just ensuring that Ukraine has adequate ammunitions to defend its territory and fight back against Russia, but also to replenish the stocks of European countries, too,” the Taoiseach said. 

“Because Ireland is militarily neutra, we’re in a different position. We’re not providing military aid to Ukraine in that sense, but we are contributing to the European peace facility to non-lethal equipment, and that includes armour, medical equipment, rations,” he said. 

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic is due to travel to London tomorrow, where he is to meet with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris as part of the EU-UK Joint Committee.

This was a body set up as part of the Brexit process to oversee the implementation of the protocol and facilitate any changes as may have been required.

With reporting by Press Association

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