Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would like to see a united Ireland only if Northern Ireland consents to it
Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s Taoiseach [Prime Minister] said he would like to see a united Ireland, but only if the majority of Northern Ireland consented.
Taoiseach Varadkar was speaking on Irish radio program TodayFM on Friday where listeners called in to “ask him anything.”
Some laugh both serious and not so serious bits in there!! https://t.co/1Cm7hr44rJ— Today FM (@TodayFM) October 25, 2019
Among the questions, perhaps not surprisingly given the state of Brexit proceedings, was whether or not the Taoiseach would like to see a united Ireland.
Varadkar said: “I would, but only in accordance with the Good Friday Agreement so that’s only with the consent of the majority of people in Northern Ireland.
“That’s really important stuff and nobody should be forced into anything they don’t want.
“And also, I think, if we ever get to that point, we need to make sure that unionists in Northern Ireland and British people in Northern Ireland feel that a united Ireland is a warm place for them.
“We don’t want to have a repeat of what happened 100 years ago when a minority were left behind.”
Michelle O’Neill, vice president of the political party Sinn Fein, said earlier this week that she believes Brexit will pave the way for a united Ireland “within a generation.”
O’Neill told The Evening Standard: “The genie is out of the bottle on Irish unity and it’s not going to go back in. I believe we are very quickly moving, this is an irreversible trend.
“Now is the chance for us all to be generous, for us all to work on the principle point that the future of a new and agreed Ireland has to be one where Irish identity and British identity live side-by-side.”
“Brexit has become a catalyst and people are now considering where their interests are best going to be served.”
She added: “No one has anything to fear from us sitting down together to actually plan a future that’s better.”
Later in his TodayFM visit, Varadkar touched upon the Brexit impasse, saying: “There is the sense that we will get a deal. They will ratify it and they will leave the European Union, but then the next thing starts, which is negotiating a new relationship.
“What we’re doing at the moment is a kind of divorce. Members are deciding, making sure that the kids are looked after, deciding the financial settlement that type of thing.
“The next step then is, how do we get on with each other after divorce because we’re still going to need to have a friendship of some sort.
“So, it just moves on to the next phase, but the most important thing in the first phase was just to protect those really important things like making sure there wasn’t the border between North and South and people’s rights are protected and that people can still travel freely between Britain and Ireland.”
Varadkar also discussed his impression of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The two met earlier this month in a behind-closed-doors meeting in Cheshire, England.
Varadkar said on the radio program: “He is the guy you see, like he is personable, he’s intelligent, he’s witty – he is very normal.
“You can talk to him about stuff, you know. Some politicians are really hard to talk to. He’s a little bit eccentric, a little bit alternative.”
Do you think Brexit makes a united Ireland more of a possibility? Let us know in the comments