Seeing eye to eye: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Prime Minister Theresa May in Downing Street. RollingNews.ie photo.
By Evan Short
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he has been reassured by British Prime Minister Theresa May’s comments that any deal that the Conservatives strike with the DUP to prop up their government will not impact on Britain's role as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement.
Speaking after their Downing Street meeting - Mr. Varadkar’s first overseas visit since becoming Taoiseach last week – he said: “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.
“I am very reassured by what the prime minister said to me today that that won’t be the case.”
Both premiers also discussed the impact of Brexit on both countries, their meeting coming on the same day as the British government formally entered Brexit talks with the European Union.
Negotiations between the Conservatives and the DUP are still ongoing to form what Mrs. May described as a “confidence and supply” agreement following the general election which saw the Conservatives just short of a majority.
It’s also been a busy few days for the new taoiseach.
On Friday of last week, Mr. Varadkar met with the DUP and Sinn Féin in two separate meetings in Dublin.
Mr. Varadkar said he had “two very good meetings with the main parties in Northern Ireland.”
Up for discussion were Brexit and attempts to discuss restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
Speaking after the meeting, DUP leader Arlene Foster said: “We want to see a Brexit that works for everybody, not just in Northern Ireland from my perspective, but in the Republic of Ireland as well, so it is about a sensible Brexit.
“I know people want to talk about soft Brexit, hard Brexit, all of these things, but what we want to see is a sensible Brexit, and one that works for everybody.”
Speaking after her party’s meeting with the new taoiseach, Sinn Féin’s northern leader, Michelle O’Neill, said the party was “committed to making the institutions work.”
“We also respect the other parties’ mandates. We want to get back to an executive that has all the parties around the table to collectively take decisions,” she said.