Taoiseach: Deal protects NI and avoids hard border

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says the Brexit deal reached this morning protects the people of Northern Ireland and avoids a hard border.

Speaking in Brussels after Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Jean-Claude Junker confirmed a deal had been made Mr Varadkar said that compromises had to be made to protect Ireland and the EU.

“As things stand we have a draft agreement between the EU on one hand and the British government on the other,” he said.

“It’s a good agreement allowing the UK to leave the EU in an orderly fashion with a transition period which is very important for businesses and citizens across the EU and UK,” he said.

“It also creates a unique solution for Northern Ireland recognising the unique history and geography of Northern Ireland, which ensures that there is no hard border between north and south, the all island economy can continue to develop and protects the single market and our place in it.

“I’ll be in a position to recommend to the European Council today that the agreement be endorsed by the European Council.”

When asked if the DUP could scupper the deal ( the party released a statement on Thursday saying they could not support the proposals), Mr Varadkar said: “I don’t want to comment on a position taken by any political party, but this will go to House of Commons on Saturday and we have to give them time and space to make the decision for themselves as to what is the right thing for the United Kingdom.”

Mr Varadkar said he was comfortable with the concessions on timescale and consent as it fulfilled Ireland’s objectives.

“I want there to be a deal, a deal that allows the UK to leave in an orderly fashion but ensure our objectives are achieved,” he said.

“I always said we would work to the last moment for a deal, I think it’s a good agreement for Northern Ireland, and for Ireland and the wider European Union.

“A compromise never has one father, we were all involved in making compromises, Prime Minister Johnson, the Irish Government and the European Union as well.

“We’ve worked really hard over the last few years to secure a deal, we regret that they’re leaving but we respect that, we know they want to leave with a deal, we want a deal too, particularly one that protects our interests and we have that now.

“The backstop has been replaced with a new solution, unique to Northern Ireland recognising its unique history and geography, and which protects the all island economy and access to the single market, and crucially takes account of democratic wishes of the people in Northern Ireland, we have always expressed the view that we would never seek to keep the people of Northern Ireland in an arrangement against the will of the people.”

“The House of Commons will meet on Saturday and the best thing we can do as Irish politicians is not intervene or interfere in UK politics, it’s up to them to decide whether they want a deal, they rejected the last deal on three occasions,” he said when asked if he thought Johnson could get the vote passed in his own parliament.

Mr Coveney confirmed that the DUP will not have a veto when it comes to the new agreement.

He said the purpose of the consent mechanism was to ensure that Northern Ireland was not being kept in any arrangement against its will.

He said it was framed in a way that it is the majority in the Northern Ireland assembly that will make that decision and he said those provisions were made very clear in the new agreement.

UK and EU negotiators brought the deal over the line on the basis that the British government is happy with it.

In a statement at lunchtime, the DUP said: “Following confirmation from the Prime Minister that he believes he has secured a “great new deal” with the European Union the Democratic Unionist Party will be unable to support these proposals in Parliament.”

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