Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil that the UK Conservative government’s reliance on DUP votes “creates a problem” in restoring a government in Northern Ireland.
Speaking in the chamber on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar said that talks last week between the main Northern Ireland political parties, the Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley and Tánaiste Simon Coveney saw “little or no progress was made”.
“Frankly, the fact that the Conservative Party and the British Government depend on the votes of the DUP in Westminster to continue in existence creates a problem as well,” the Taoiseach added. “This is because it does not allow the UK Government to play the role it would have played in the past by putting pressure on unionism and all parties to get back around the table and come to an agreement.
The DUP currently has a confidence-and-supply arrangement with British Prime Minister Theresa May and the 10 DUP MPs are often key votes in the Commons.
Mr Varadkar added that his government is dedicated to seeing a government restored in Stormont.
“The Government wants to see an agreement in place to secure the operation of the devolved institutions and will continue to engage with the British government and the political parties in Northern Ireland to seek urgent progress in that area in the period immediately ahead,” he added.
Closer to home, Mr Varadkar has faced criticism after a spending overrun in the National Children’s Hospital saw funding diverted from the long-awaited A5 road from Dublin to Derry.
However, the Taoiseach laid blame for delays at the door of the DUP and Sinn Féin’s inability to restore a power-sharing executive.
“The A5 is not delayed because of a reprofiling by government, it is delayed because of legal challenges in Northern Ireland and the fact there is no minister to sign off on the project,” he said.
“Once it gets back on track, the government will be more than happy to provide the £25 million (€28.5m), which we had intended to provide this year.
“If the road starts this year, I’ll be happy to be present at the sod turning, I may even bring the cheque with me. We are not going to pay £25 million (€28.5m) to the NI authorities for a road that hasn’t even started.”
- Press Association