SEVERE WX : Freeze Warning View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Irish Prime Minister says he aspires to a 'united Ireland'

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said he aspires to a united Ireland based on "cross-community support" in remar...

Posted: Jan 2, 2018 9:25 PM
Updated: Jan 2, 2018 9:25 PM

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said he aspires to a united Ireland based on "cross-community support" in remarks released on Tuesday, the UK Press Association reported.

"In terms of a united Ireland, our constitution is clear on this," he said. "Our constitution aspires to there being a united Ireland. I share that aspiration."

But Varadkar made clear that unity between Ireland and Northern Ireland -- which is part of the United Kingdom -- could come about only "by consent."

"When it does come about I would like to see it command a degree of cross-community support," he added.

The remarks, which are likely to provoke criticism from unionist Northern Irish politicians, come just a few weeks after a deal was reached during Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the European Union on the historically sensitive issue of the Irish border.

The question had threatened to derail the talks and brought the controversial issue of a united Ireland to the fore.

The demilitarization of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland was a key element of the Good Friday Agreement, the 1998 deal that ended years of sectarian conflict.

The UK's planned departure from the European Union raised the prospect of a return to a "hard" border, as Northern Ireland would leave the EU while the Republic of Ireland remained in the bloc. But in an agreement reached in December, the UK and EU pledged that there would be no hard border.

Even after the border deal was struck, concerns remained in Dublin over the UK government's handling of the issue. There is also unease that the commitments made by British Prime Minister Theresa May regarding the border may not be as solid as the initial wording suggested, which could strengthen support for Irish nationalism.

Jennifer Todd, professor in the School of Politics and International Relations at University College Dublin, said Varadkar's remarks were a direct response to the British government's approach to Brexit negotiations.

Todd said the British government -- under pressure from pro-Brexit lawmakers -- is "asserting an unreformed traditionalist concept of sovereignty over Northern Ireland" and has not listened when the Irish government "tried to say this diplomatically."

But Paul Bew, emeritus professor of politics at Queen's University Belfast and cross-bench peer in the British House of Lords, said that Varadkar's insistence on the need for consent and cross-community support had brought a new, more conciliatory tone to the debate.

"It's not actually provocative, it's meant to be the opposite," Bew said. "What he's doing here is trying to pull back from the irritation he has caused in the unionist community by the stance he took over the past several weeks ... this is an attempt to conciliate."

Building support for Irish unity across both Catholic and Protestant communities in Northern Ireland is "a 50-year project," Bew said. Varadkar's remarks are "a way of saying ... we don't want unity any time soon."

Whatever his motivation, Varadkar is likely to come under renewed fire from pro-unionist parties in Northern Ireland.

In the days before the border deal was brokered, Varadkar and his government were accused of exploiting the negotiations to forward their ambitions for a united Ireland. Varadkar was insisting that talks should not progress until London committed to preventing a "hard" border.

Members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) -- a Northern Irishle party fiercely loyal to the British monarch -- were particularly outspoken, with the party's leader, Arlene Foster, accusing the Irish government of hijacking the talks.

READ MORE: Who are the DUP?

In an interview with the BBC Radio 4 Today program in November, Foster was particularly critical of Simon Coveney, Ireland's Foreign Minister, who had previously said he "would like to see a united Ireland in my lifetime. If possible, in my political Iifetime."

"He's of course entitled to have that aspiration but he should not be using European Union negotiations to talk about those issues," Foster said.

Ten days later in the UK Parliament, DUP politician Nigel Dodds described the Irish government's approach as "aggressive" and "disgraceful."

Varadkar rejected the claims at the time, insisting: "There is no question of us trying to exploit Brexit ... we want to build bridges, not borders."

Lafayette
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 68° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 55°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 43°
Feels Like: 54°
Rensselaer
Cloudy
43° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 37°
Lafayette
Cloudy
55° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 55°
Danville
Cloudy
51° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 51°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 54°
Frankfort
Partly Cloudy
54° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 54°
Monticello
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 39°
Monticello
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 66° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 39°
Logansport
Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 39°
Brief Snow & Freezing Ahead....
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 708067

Reported Deaths: 13224
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion964881721
Lake51704945
Allen39185672
Hamilton34497405
St. Joseph34075540
Elkhart27306432
Vanderburgh22077394
Tippecanoe21818212
Porter17940299
Johnson17526374
Hendricks16803310
Clark12688190
Madison12350337
Vigo12211244
Monroe11462166
LaPorte11140204
Delaware10356184
Howard9662211
Kosciusko9127114
Hancock7979139
Bartholomew7888155
Warrick7684155
Floyd7560176
Wayne6899198
Grant6842171
Boone6552100
Morgan6395138
Dubois6084117
Marshall5783108
Dearborn570076
Cass5684102
Henry5577100
Noble542483
Jackson493269
Shelby479095
Lawrence4342118
Gibson428789
Harrison428170
Clinton419053
Montgomery417986
DeKalb410984
Whitley379639
Huntington379480
Miami372565
Knox366389
Steuben365257
Putnam352660
Jasper350546
Wabash347778
Adams337952
Ripley334668
Jefferson313180
White308354
Daviess289299
Wells286381
Decatur278992
Fayette277162
Greene270685
Posey268833
Scott261153
Clay253444
LaGrange253070
Randolph235680
Washington230931
Spencer227931
Jennings224747
Fountain208745
Sullivan207842
Starke204352
Owen192256
Fulton191739
Jay186129
Carroll185820
Perry180336
Orange177853
Rush170724
Vermillion166043
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144616
Blackford133831
Pike130334
Pulaski113645
Newton103934
Brown100140
Crawford97614
Benton97113
Martin82815
Warren79615
Switzerland7698
Union69910
Ohio55811
Unassigned0409

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events