Leo Varadkar to meet Theresa May in Downing St

Jay Anderson
June 20, 2017

London, Jun 19 Ireland's first Indian-origin Prime Minister Leo Varadkar today met his United Kingdom counterpart Theresa May for bilateral talks during his first visit to 10 Downing Street amid political uncertainty in Britain.

"We continue our discussions with the DUP. When there is an attack on London, we in Ireland feel it is nearly an attack on us as well", Varadkar said.

It is feared their heightened influence could jeopardise the Belfast Agreement, aka the Good Friday Agreement.

"I was very reassured by the prime minister (who) said to me today that that would be the case".

The ruling Tories need the backing of the 10 DUP MPs to form its minority government following a hung Parliament verdict in the June 8 snap general election.

The move will see the former arts ministry ceding responsibility for rural and regional affairs to a new department, with the government's new chief whip, Joe McHugh, being tasked with overseeing the Department of Culture's remit to support and develop the Irish language.

Mr Varadkar said that restoring powersharing was particularly important with the start of the formal Brexit negotiations in Brussels.

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The pair held talks on the devolved Northern Ireland Government - which has yet to put in place a new administration.

"Having an executive up and running - an executive that can speak for both communities in Northern Ireland - would be a big advantage for Northern Ireland".

May also expressed the hope that Britain's exit from the European Union (EU) would not impact relations with EU-member country Ireland.

Mr Varadkar added: "We want to make sure that there is minimal or no disruption to trade between our two countries".

The two leaders have agreed to pursue an "invisible" border as they met for the first time this afternoon.

Back in 2015, the Northern Irish Assembly backed the legalisation of same-sex marriage with 53 votes to 52, but because the DUP used a "Petitions of Concern" power, the legislation was blocked.

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