Restoring powersharing the priority as Brexit talks begin, says Irish minister

Cheryl Sanders
June 20, 2017

IRELAND'S new taoiseach Leo Varadkar has been "reassured" by Theresa May that her planned deal with the DUP will not undermine the Good Friday Agreement.

"I hope we will have an executive that will involve them all too".

"On reaching such an agreement we will make sure that the details of that are made public so that people can see exactly what that agreement is based on", she said.

But he said those arguments also needed to be made by a serving first and deputy first minister at Stormont.

Speaking in Downing Street alongside Mr Varadka, Mrs May dismissed these concerns as she claimed her government "remains absolutely steadfast" in its commitment to upholding the Good Friday Agreement.

Mr Coveney said he would highlight the particular issues facing Northern Ireland - in regard to the peace process and cross-border movement - when he met the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier in Luxembourg on Tuesday.

Varadkar said he would emphasize to May the British and Irish governments must remain impartial in Northern Ireland, as stipulated by the Good Friday Agreement.

The comments were an apparent reference to the party's opposition to scrapping the "triple lock" on pensions and means-testing the winter fuel payment, both of which appeared in the Conservative manifesto.

Both leaders expressed confidence that the Stormont institutions could be up and running again by the deadline of June 29, averting a return to direct rule from Westminster.

The border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, an European Union member, will become the only land border between the UK and the European Union after Britain exits the bloc in March 2019.

"Over the coming months, I will work to ensure these negotiations protect and advance Ireland's interests and deliver the best outcome for our people, for our businesses and for our island".

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said two weeks is more than enough time to do a deal.

Senior DUP representative and former Stormont minister Simon Hamilton also struck a positive tone during a day that saw the first round table plenary session of a talks process that started last week.

According to a statement, Mr Davis is expected to say that while there is a long road ahead, the destination was clear - "A deep and special partnership between the United Kingdom and the EU".

"We are working away at them and will continue to work away at them".

Other reports by iNewsToday