Belfast Telegraph

May's pact with DUP hampering return of Stormont says Varadkar

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the official sod-turning ceremony for the new runway at Dublin Airport last week
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at the official sod-turning ceremony for the new runway at Dublin Airport last week
Talks: Karen Bradley

By Aoife Moore

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dail that the Conservative Government's reliance on DUP votes "creates a problem" in restoring power-sharing at Stormont.

Speaking in the chamber yesterday, Mr Varadkar also said his government would not be handing over £25m to the authorities here for the A5 road project until a Stormont minister signs off on it.

Mr Varadkar said that talks last week between the main parties, Secretary of State Karen Bradley and Tanaiste Simon Coveney saw "little or no progress 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.

"These are two new dynamics that did not exist in the past when institutions broke down. They are two very unwelcome dynamics."

The DUP currently has a confidence-and-supply arrangement with Prime Minister Theresa May and the 10 DUP MPs are often key to votes in the Commons.

Mr Varadkar added that he is dedicated to seeing Stormont restored.

The Taoiseach has faced criticism after a spending overrun in the National Children's Hospital saw funding diverted from the long-awaited A5 road project.

However, the Taoiseach laid blame for delays at the door of the DUP and Sinn Fein due to their inability to restore the 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 £25m 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 £25m to the Northern Ireland authorities for a road that hasn't even started."

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