Belfast Telegraph

Trip to Belfast not wasted... always nice to visit city, see Prime Minister and other parties: Varadkar

By Jonathan Bell

Taoiseah Leo Varadkar has said his trip to Belfast on Monday was "not wasted," as talks on restoring the Stormont institutions broke up without agreement.

Mr Varadkar said he had travelled to Belfast to help support a deal being made.

"It was an opportunity to visit Belfast which is always nice as well as an opportunity to meet the Prime Minister and the other parties which is always important," he said.

"We have to be patient... if the Executive is to get up and running then there has to be an accommodation between the DUP and Sinn Fein."

He said he had not met with the DUP on Monday as it has internal meetings. Tanaiste Simon Coveney said there shouldn't be too much read into the failure of the two sides to meet.

"But the sounding from both Arlene Foster and Mary Lou McDonald are good and hopefully they can find an accommodation," Mr Varadkar added.

"We will support whatever agreement can be made... that does not necessarily mean we have to return for any deal."

Asked why it had taken him 13 months to go to Stormont himself, he said he had been present through his teams during the course of the Stormont political deadlock.

Simon Coveney said having both Mr Varadkar and Mrs May in Belfast showed the partnership they had in endeavouring to get agreement.

He said he hoped there had been a level of trust between the two parties and the two governments.

"Everyone wants to see devolved government. It is fundamental to agreement and to peace," he added.

"Over past two weeks we have seen move towards trying to find common ground in different areas... we are not quite there yet.

"There were two difficult elections in Northern Ireland last year and they were very polarising.

"There has been a long negotiation part of that has been difficult at time and there has been added pressure because of Brexit which has made live more difficult.

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