Taoiseach criticises Fianna Fáil's partnership with SDLP

Taoiseach criticises Fianna Fáil's partnership with SDLP

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has criticised Fianna Fáil's recent partnership with the SDLP during a trip to Belfast.

Speaking at an Alliance Party dinner last night, Mr Varadkar pointed to the dynamic created by the deal between the Conservative party and the DUP and said a similar dynamic could arise if Fianna Fáil were in Government.

He also spoke to journalists of the need to be an 'honest broker' when dealing with Northern Ireland politics:

Mr Varadkar said: "The decision that Fine Gael, my party, has taken is that rather than aligning ourselves with any one political party in Northern Ireland, that we think it's better for Fine Gael as a party - but also as a party of Government - to try to work with all parties, to be an honest broker where there is a disagreement and also, in particular, reach out to the centre ground of people in politics but also people beyond politics who want a shared future."

Also last night in Belfast, the Taoiseach said Ireland's defamation laws need to find the right balance between free speech and privacy.

It comes in the wake of yesterday's verdict that Denis O'Brien had not been defamed by the Sunday Business Post.

He told reporters that Ireland's defamation laws do need review, but that a review is currently underway.

The Taoiseach said: "Defamation laws in Ireland do seem to be more restrictive than in other countries, but we also have to balance the need for free speech and the need for a free press, but we also need to protect people's privacy and people's reputations.

"Where media organisations or journalists do publish things that are untrue and damaging, they can really hurt people, so we need to get that balance right."

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