Taoiseach Leo Varadkar offered his views on Irish unity when asked about The Wolfe Tones and the band's success during an interview with Bryan Dobson on RTÉ News at One on Thursday, September 7.

For the final question of the wide-ranging interview, Dobson asked Varadkar if he would be getting tickets to the recently announced Wolfe Tones gig at the 3Arena in Dublin next year.

Laughing, Varadkar said he probably wouldn't be buying tickets.

Dobson asked Varadkar what he thought of the "success" that The Wolfe Tones have been enjoying. The decades-old Irish rebel band drew a record-setting crowd at the Electric Picnic music festival on Saturday, September 3.

"I was at Electric Picnic, didn't get a chance to see The Wolfe Tones or The Saw Doctors," Varadkar said.

"I probably have a more sanguine view of this than maybe other people. People like ballads, they like songs they can sing along to.

"I think some people maybe read too much into the politics of this.

"But there is one thing I would say - I believe we are on the path to unification.

"I believe that there will be a united Ireland in my lifetime.

“And in that united Ireland, there is going to be a minority, roughly a million people who are British, and you judge the success and the quality of a country by the way it treats its minorities. And that's something we're going to have to think about.

"Because what is a republican ballad, a nice song to sing, easy words to learn for some people can be deeply offensive to other people.

"Bear in mind in the southern states [in the US] for example, when people sing about the Confederacy and Robert E. Lee, they think it's an expression of their culture and so on and that's what they say. But that is deeply offensive to the minority, the Black community in America.

"If we're going to unite this country and unite the people of this country, a bit like Patrick Kielty says, we just need to have a think about how our words and how the songs we sing might be heard by other people."

As the current head of Fine Gael, which describes itself as the "United Ireland Party," Varadkar's comments on Irish unity are neither new nor surprising.

"Bunreacht na hÉireann affirms our national aspiration for territorial unity," the party's official policy says.

"Fine Gael, the United Ireland Party, shares that aspiration based on the principle of consent and a clear majority, North and South, being in favour.

"We believe that uniting people is even more important than uniting territory."

However, Varadkar said earlier this year that a Friends of Sinn Féin advertisement placed in US newspapers calling for a date to be set for Unity Referendums was "unhelpful" as it was "not clear at all at the moment" that the people of Northern Ireland would support such a vote.

"I believe in a United Ireland."
—Taoiseach @LeoVaradkar. #VMTVDebate pic.twitter.com/EinUILkxtU

— Fine Gael (@FineGael) January 30, 2020

Elsewhere on Thursday, Varadkar met with board members of Ireland’s Future, which campaigns for "a referendum on a New and United Ireland - a New Union of Ireland."

🚨Ireland’s Future board members met with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar this morning in Dublin

🚨Excellent engagement about the future of our island

🚨We outlined the urgency of a pathway to a referendum

🚨We spoke about the importance of democracy & people being allowed to choose pic.twitter.com/INq1STdzBv

— Ireland's Future - Todhchaí na hÉireann (@IrelandsFuture) September 7, 2023

Despite Varadkar admitting that considerations would have to be made for a British minority in the event of a united Ireland, Northern Ireland politician Edwin Poots hit out at the Taoiseach's comments later on Thursday.

"Once again Leo Varadkar has shown complete insensitivity and utter contempt for Unionists with deeply inappropriate comments," Poots, the short-lived former head of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said on social media.

"Firstly his defence of the Wolf Tones singing Ooh ah up the ra is entirely inappropriate for the Irish Prime Minister. The ra was the nickname for the IRA the terrorist organisation that killed and maimed tens of thousands, devastating homes mainly in Northern Ireland but further afield as well.

"As negotiations continue on getting Stormont up and running after the Northern Ireland Protocol pushed by Mr Varadkar drove a coach and horses through the consensual arrangements required for devolution, the inappropriate comments and timing of them from a so called honest broker is hugely damaging. To then pay lip service about how you treat minorities having supported the band chanting up the ra demonstrates how out of touch he is with Unionists.

"From a Unionist perspective Leo Varadkar takes us back to the bad old days of Charlie Haughey and his attitude has already contributed significantly to the breakdown at Stormont. This latest intervention will regrettably set things back again."