Taoiseach says he is a 'neighbour not an invader' and predicts United Ireland vote would not pass in coming years

Taoiseach says he is a 'neighbour not an invader' and predicts United Ireland vote would not pass in coming years
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (left) is welcomed to the Museum of Orange Heritage in Belfast by the Grand Master of the Orange Lodge, Edward Stevenson as part of his visit to Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has moved to calm unionist fears over the possibility of a united Ireland in the near future, saying he sees himself as a "neighbour not as an invader" and predicting a united Ireland vote would be lost if it occurs in the coming years.

Speaking during an historic first visit of a sitting taoiseach to the headquarters of the Orange Order in East Belfast, Mr Varadkar said "my mother brought me up to very good manners" and that he wants a friendly relationship between the north and south.

Asked about the unionist view of him due to comments in recent months and concerns raised this week by former DUP leader Peter Robinson about the possibility of a united Ireland in the future, Mr Varadkar said:

My mother brought me up to have very good manners. I see myself as a neighbour not as an invader, as the head of government in another jurisdiction.

He added his sole intention on visits to Northern Ireland is to "reach out" to both Irish citizens in the province and others who want to remain part of the UK.

Asked about the prospect of a united Ireland poll in the near future, Mr Varadkar added that he believes such a vote would be lost if it took place in the coming years - and insisted it must be a once in a generation vote if it does happen.

On the first point, I don't think the time is right or the conditions are right now for a poll on Northern Ireland. I think it would be very divisive, it would fall once again on traditional lines.

"I don't think it should be every three years, five years or seven years, the point he [Peter Robinson] was making was that decisions like that should be once in a generation," Mr Varadkar said.

More in this Section

Man, 60s, killed in Tipperary hit and runMan, 60s, killed in Tipperary hit and run

July 11 bonfires set to be lit at midnightJuly 11 bonfires set to be lit at midnight

Summer Provision to be extended to primary school students with special needs Summer Provision to be extended to primary school students with special needs

Two further Covid-19 related deaths, Department of Health confirmsTwo further Covid-19 related deaths, Department of Health confirms


Lifestyle

Geography is often the defining factor for the destiny of an island. Those islands that lie close to the shore have often been snapped up by interests on the mainland and their morphology changed to something completely different.The Islands of Ireland: Tarbert morphed onto the mainland

In the first of our new series of summer-themed pieces, Conal Creedon recalls a childhood visit to his uncle in West Cork.Mo Laethanta Saoire: Conal Creedon's happy memories of Beara

Esther N McCarthy reveals her interiors picks of the week to add zing to your homeWish List: Super soap, special salad side plates and sweet summer dining sets

Last summer, tanlines became fashionable. At the Jacquemus spring/summer 2020 fashion show on a 1,600-foot fuchsia carpet catwalk, amidst rows of lavender in Provence, svelte male models sported a farmer’s tan. Le coup de soleil, the collection was called. Sunburn, in French.How (not) to feel the burn - the best SPFs on the market for men

More From The Irish Examiner