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Dublin: 11 °C Thursday 2 April, 2020

Taoiseach says meeting with Johnson chance to see if there's any common ground

The Taoiseach said he’s not anticipating any breakthroughs during tomorrow’s meeting with the UK PM.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee with port and customs officials during a visit to new physical infrastructure at Dublin Port.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and European Affairs Minister Helen McEntee with port and customs officials during a visit to new physical infrastructure at Dublin Port.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said he does not expect there will be any breakthroughs during his meeting with Boris Johnson in Dublin tomorrow. 

Speaking at Dublin Port where he was viewing infrastructure – which has been put in place to meet the requirements for customs, SPS and health checks on consignments of goods imported from or transiting the UK – Varadkar said he didn’t think tomorrow’s meeting was a high stake one.

“I don’t think the meeting tomorrow is a high stakes meeting, as I don’t anticipate a big breakthrough tomorrow if we come to an agreement that agreement will happen in October at the EU summit. But the stakes are high, certainly, I don’t think anyone can argue with that.”

“It will be an opportunity to get to know each other a little bit better, to see if there is common ground, I’m sure there will be,” he said, adding that it would be “interesting” to see if Ireland and the UK could explore a Northern Ireland specific solution to the border issue. 

I don’t know if we can find some common ground around a Northern Ireland unique solution, but we’ve always said as a government that that’s something that we are open to.

“It will be interesting to see if we explore tomorrow if whether we could find common ground around a Northern Ireland specific solution, but I’ll have to judge that tomorrow,” Varadkar said. 

PastedImage-86468 Source: Twitter

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe told RTÉ’s This Week programme that Varadkar and Johnson’s meeting tomorrow is an opportunity to understand the UK PM’s intentions. 

Johnson previously said he would “rather be dead in a ditch” than seek another Brexit extension from the EU, a view the Taoiseach said he did not share. 

In the event of a no-deal, Varadkar said he thinks the UK and EU would negotiate again within weeks or months but “it would be a tragedy if we got to that point”. 


Speaking ahead of Sinn Féin’s Ard Comhairle in Dublin yesterday Mary Lou McDonald called on the Taoiseach to refuse any checks on the island of Ireland in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

She said the failure to stop checks being rolled out in Ireland amounts to “political vandalism” and would “represent a serious breach of the Good Friday Agreement”. 

Earlier this week during a speech at a British-Irish Chamber of Commerce event, Leo Varadkar said the risk of a no-deal Brexit is growing and that would mean “checks on goods and live animals,” including some near the border with Northern Ireland. 

Speaking at Dublin Port today, Varadkar stressed that until details of checks on the Irish border are worked out by the European Commission, he’s not in a position to inform people yet. 

When asked if he was talking weeks or months, Varadkar said: “It’s not agreed yet. It’s not worked out. The last thing I want to do now is give information that changes.” 

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Adam Daly

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