Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has stated that he believes that following Brexit, a significant amount of Northern Ireland’s citizens will declare themselves as Irish citizens, including those from a unionist background.

Mr. Varadkar made the comment as he was attending a summit in Brussels of EU leaders yesterday.

“After the UK leaves the EU it is very likely that the majority of people in Northern Ireland will be Irish and European citizens. Even people from a unionist background will want to become Irish and European citizens at the very least for their convenience,” he said.

When questioned on the recent comment by EU Commissioner Phil Hogan that talks between the European Union and the British Government were “on a cliff edge”, Mr. Varadkar was under the impression that it had not reached that stage and said that “I don’t think I’d use that language. I don’t agree with the substance of it. I think we’ve a long way to go yet. Brexit doesn’t happen until April 2019, we’re quite far back from the cliff edge.

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The open border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland

“So it’s incumbent on all European prime ministers and presidents to ensure that we don’t sleepwalk towards that cliff and that substantially more progress is made in the next few months.”

Mr. Varadkar was quizzed about the British Government complaining on the talks being stalled on the financial aspects and the lack of movement regarding the Irish border and the confirmation of citizens rights.

“There needs to be more detail. What we have had from the UK, which is very welcome, is some very positive sentiments, all the right language about the future relationship between the UK and the EU and also ensuring there isn’t any new barrier to trade or movement in Northern Ireland.

“But we need a little bit more detail on it.

“What they always say is that they want the closest possible relationship with Europe and Ireland.

“They already have the closest possible relationship. It’s called the European Union, and I think we need a lot more detail in how you can square the idea of the closest possible relationship with the circle of the fact that they’re departing from that.”

“It’s not just about Ireland, it’s also about the rights of citizens, which are really important. It’s also about the finances which, quite frankly, are less important. What’s more important is what happens to citizens not just in Europe but in Britain and Northern Ireland and in Ireland,” he said.

 

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