Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told Dáil Eireann that the UK’s Brexiteers must show the same respect to Ireland’s referendum support for the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 as they demand for the result of their own Brexit Referendum from 2016.
He told TDs there would be no diluting or dismissing the Belfast Agreement despite the best efforts of hard-line Brexiteers to suggest it had outlived its usefulness.
“These are the same people who say to us that we should respect their vote, that we should respect their referendum, the 51.8 per cent vote for Brexit.
“I remind them that the Good Friday Agreement was approved by the Irish people, 94 per cent in this State, 71 per cent in Northern Ireland and they should respect our vote too.”
Mr Varadkar said a date has not yet been fixed for a British Irish Intergovernmental Conference – which convenes when there is no devolved government in Northern Ireland – but said London and Dublin are in regular contact.
Mr Varadkar said the draft withdrawal document published in Brussels on Wednesday, with its backstop, was seen as Option C or a last resort.
Ireland’s preferred outcome would be Option A which avoids a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland and a hard border between Britain and Ireland.
Mr Varadkar said: “Option A is still an option but it is now incumbent on the British government in particular to put forward in detail their proposals on how that can be achieved.
“There’ll be people, hardline Brexiteers, and some politicians in Northern Ireland, who will say ‘No!’ who will be angry at what they see today but just saying ‘No!’ and just being angry isn’t enough.
“If people don’t like what they see it is incumbent on them to come up with alternative solutions.”
He said British Prime Minister Theresa May had repeatedly reassured him that she and “her government stands by their pledge to avoid a hard Border and they are steadfast in their support of the Good Friday Agreement.”
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