IRELAND’s new prime minister will meet Theresa May on Monday to discuss Brexit and insist the Conservative Party’s alliance with the DUP does not affect the border with Northern Ireland.
The pair are due to discuss Brexit and the political deadlock in the Northern Irish regional assembly, after a breakdown in a power sharing deal between the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Brexit will be high on the agenda amid concerns of a return to a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland once Britain leaves the EU.
Mrs May’s plans to agree an informal ‘confidence and supply’ deal with Arlene Foster on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic will also come under scrutiny.
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “I will be speaking to her about a renewed commitment by the two governments to work together to ensure that the Northern Ireland executive is established before June 29.
“Obviously also we are going to have a discussion around Brexit.
“I’ll be interested to learn from her to what extent, if at all, British policy has changed and to relay to her once again the particular concerns that we have in Ireland about the impact on the border, trade and freedom of citizens to move freely between our two islands as we have done for centuries.”
The Irish prime minister – known as the Taoiseach in the republic – also said today that the DUP deal must not interfere with devolution in Northern Ireland.
His office said in a statement :”The Taoiseach raised the ongoing discussions on formation of a new government in London with the DUP, which is a matter for the parties represented at Westminster, but noted the need to avoid any outcome which could interfere with devolution and the prospects of re-establishing the Executive.”
His comments come after a week of negotiations between DUP leader Arlene Foster and Mrs May over the confidence agreement,
Speaking after returning home to Belfast, Ms Foster said she wanted to see an arrangement that worked for everybody after the UK left the EU.
Ms Foster said: “Not just in Northern Ireland from my perspective but of course in the Republic of Ireland as well. So it is about a sensible Brexit.
“I know people want to talk about soft Brexit, hard Brexit, all of these sorts of things, but what we want to see is a sensible Brexit and one that works for everybody.”
The PM yesterday urged Northern Ireland’s political parties to reach an agreement to restore government by June 29, or London would need to consider alternative steps.
Theresa May said: “Speaking with the parties today, it was clear that real progress was made in the last round of discussions and agreement can be reached if there is good will on all sides.
“But time is running short and the parties must come together by the 29 June for the return of a strong voice at Stormont.”
Brexit negotiations are set to start on Monday.