Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Leo Varadkar meets Theresa May at Downing Street

Leo Varadkar meets Theresa May at Downing Street

Theresa May with Leo Varadkar.

The prime minister met leaders of Northern Ireland' other political parties yesterday, some of whom had voiced concerns that a tie-up could destabilise local politics and undermine the British government's neutrality in overseeing separate talks to form a new power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

They told me the United Kingdom would vote Remain, they said Theresa May would win a commanding majority, now they tell me that the deal with the Democratic Unionist Party is essential for our national stability.

"We spoke about the very important need for both governments to be impartial actors when it comes to Northern Ireland and that we are co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement and that any agreement that may exist between the Conservatives and the DUP should not in any way impact on the Good Friday Agreement", he said.

The DUP's deal to prop up the Tories at Westminster is also likely to be discussed at Downing Street.

"As a UK Government we remain absolutely steadfast in our commitment to the Belfast Agreement, its successor agreements".

Mr Coveney said a number of "core issues" still stand in the way of an agreement but he said he did not consider them "insurmountable".

She also expressed confidence that negotiations to restore a power-sharing executive in Stormont will be successful and institutions will be up and running again by the deadline of June 29.

"The message is clear: all five parties want to..."

"The most right-wing and reactionary party in northern Ireland will be backed by the most right-wing and reactionary major party in Britain, directly the product of British imperialism's history of intervention and domination in Ireland", he commented, pointing out that the UDA and UVF paramilitaries had backed the DUP in this month's General Election.

In his first official overseas visit since being elected Taoiseach last week, Varadkar travels to London where Northern Ireland and Brexit will top the agenda.

May said she was steadfastly committed to the Good Friday Agreement and wanted to see a "close and special partnership" with the Republic of Ireland post-Brexit.

"There have been positive engagements today between ourselves and Sinn Fein", he said.

Asked if the Brexit process increased the pressure on her party to re-establish an Executive, Mrs O'Neill said Sinn Fein was already making the case across Europe for Northern Ireland to retain special designated European Union status.

Declan Kearney, the party's chairman, said a DUP focus on Ms Foster's future role at Stormont "is completely misdirected and premature".

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