Taoiseach Leo Varadkar meeting with the Rev. Mervyn Gibson who headed a delegation of Orange Order lodges from the South’s border counties for a meeting in Government Buildings, Dublin.
By Anthony Neeson
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has insisted that there will be no renegotiation of the draft Brexit deal.
On Sunday, November 25, the EU and the UK signed up to a draft agreement, but British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing an uphill struggle to see it pass through the House of Commons next month with MPs on all sides saying they will vote against it.
EU leaders has also said the deal as it stands cannot be changed.
The taoiseach has said there is no other deal on the table but added he didn’t want to get involved in internal British politics.
“I think it is likely that the UK parliament sooner or later will agree to what has been agreed by the 28 members state governments.”
He added: “This is the best deal that was available to the UK. I know there is a lot of focus on the backstop but bear in mind one of the big benefits to the UK of the backstop is it provides for a single customs territory if we cannot agree a future relationship as President Macron [of France] pointed out yesterday.
“That means that even if we can’t negotiate a future relationship, the UK will continue to have access to EU markets through a single customs territory.”
The taoiseach also hit out at Sinn Féin and its policy of abstaining from the British parliament, this ahead of the vote on the draft deal in the House of Commons.
“Sinn Féin is an unusual party in that it is not taking up its seats for Westminster for one reason, and it isn’t taking up its seats in Stormont for another.
“Generally people who get involved in politics get involved because they want to make a difference and use the democratic process to get good outcomes for citizens.
“If they are not willing to take up their seats because they feel they can’t, because they got elected on the basis of abstentionism, they do have the option now of resigning their seats and allowing the people in those constituencies decide whether or not they want to have a say when this vote comes to Westminster.”
Responding, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said Sinn Féin was the largest nationalist party in the North “and we have no intention of standing aside and abandoning our mandate.”
She added: “The reality is that the people of ‘those constituencies’ have already spoken and they chose abstentionist Sinn Féin MPs.
“The taoiseach’s problem is that he doesn’t like the democratic choice of the people of ‘those constituencies’ and now makes the ludicrous proposition that there should be another election without Sinn Féin’s participation, taking the democratic choice away from the people. He needs to catch himself on.
“If the taoiseach and Fine Gael think Irish politicians should take seats in the British parliament, they should seek a mandate for that, stand candidates in the Northern elections, and stop hurling from the ditch.”