There are deep concerns within the Cabinet about the UK election result and what it means for Ireland, with one minister saying: “This really now is a crisis.”
The hung parliament in Westminster has caused convulsions in Government here, particularly in the context of the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit.
“This makes an already complicated situation even more complicated and that is not good,” said one senior Government source.
Such is the sense of flux, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has indicated negotiations on Brexit will be delayed to allow clarity emerge in London.
“Brexit negotiations should start when UK is ready; timetable and EU positions are clear. Let’s put our minds together on striking a deal,” he tweeted.
Fine Gael leader and the likely next taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, said : “The results of the UK election indicate to me that there is no strong mandate to proceed with a hard Brexit, which represents an opportunity for Ireland.
“The Irish Government is ready to participate in negotiations on Brexit and to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland.
“We must ensure that the Brexit talks are handled in a smooth and coherent manner to secure the best possible outcome for Ireland, for Europe and the UK.”
Mr Varadkar also said the “early restoration” of the Northern Ireland executive is a priority and that there is now a “strong opportunity for the parties in Northern Ireland to re-engage in discussions to form an executive”.
Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said he wants to see the negotiations process up and running again and the dissolved assembly put back in place before the end of June. Mr Flanagan said he has spoken to Mr Varadkar about the situation.
Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed said the Government has to get on with the negotiation process in the aftermath of Brexit, regardless of whether Theresa May or anyone else is in charge at 10 Downing Street.
Mr Creed added that it is not possible for anyone to say with any degree of certainty that the vote makes it likely there will be a hard Brexit.
He said he is confident the new taoiseach and his government will “hit the ground running next week”.
Responding to the result, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin criticised Sinn Féin in the wake of the UK election result.
Mr Martin said it is “illogical and incomprehensible”, given the important issues facing the North regarding Brexit, that Sinn Féin would not participate as MPs in Westminster.
Hitting back at Mr Martin, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said if Mr Martin is concerned about Ireland’s representation at Westminster then he should stand candidates in the northern constituencies.
She said: “Micheál Martin is a hurler on the ditch in this election. We will not take lectures from him. Sinn Féin represents the nationalist and republican people in the North of our country. Fianna Fáil don’t even attempt to represent people there, so Micheál Martin should either put up or shut up.
“We put our position to the people and it has been overwhelmingly endorsed. We are mandated not to take our seats at Westminster and we will honour that mandate.”
Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said a Conservative/DUP government “have no good cards to play in the upcoming Brexit negotiations”.
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