Brexit is 'undermining the Good Friday Agreement', says Leo Varadkar

Brexit is 'undermining the Good Friday Agreement', says Leo Varadkar

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Brexit is undermining 20 years of peace in Northern Ireland and is 'fraying relationships' between Britain and Ireland, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

The Irish prime minister gave a stark warning about the state of cross-border relations on Saturday, with just months to go before the UK is due to quit the European Union.

His comments came after another Dublin politician said a return to a hard border threatened the peace process, in a row following reports that a backstop plan was close to being agreed with Brussels.

Senator Neale Richmond, who chairs the Seanad's Brexit Committee, told Brexiteer Tory MP Owen Paterson on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that plans for solving the border dispute using "existing practical systems" was "completely unfeasible".

 

'Fraying relationships'

Speaking on RTE Radio One's Marian Finucane programme on Saturday morning, the Taoiseach said: "Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement and it is fraying relationships between Britain and Ireland.

"Anything that pulls the two communities apart in Northern Ireland undermines the Good Friday Agreement and anything that pulls Britain and Ireland apart undermines that relationship."

His comments came two days after Nobel peace prize winner and Ulster Unionist Lord Trimble accused Mr Varadkar's government of "riding roughshod" over the 1998 agreement.

Lord Trimble, who helped draw up the landmark agreement which ended decades of deadly fighting in the province, claimed that the Brexit process could result in Northern Ireland ending up as part of an "effective EU protectorate".

Brexit talks have reached an impasse over the EU's "backstop" plan, which would see Northern Ireland effectively remaining in the customs union and single market unless alternative arrangements were found to prevent a hard border.

But reports from Dublin had suggested that a deal involving an all-UK customs union in the Withdrawal Agreement, plus a separate backstop for Northern Ireland, is close to being agreed.

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