Leo Varadkar 'reassured' about DUP-Tory deal

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image captionLast week Mr Varadkar said he would raise concerns about the potential deal

The new Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) has said he has been "reassured" about a potential deal between the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party.

Leo Varadkar held talks with Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday.

Last week, he said he would raise concerns about the deal.

He said as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, the British and Irish governments should not be too close to unionism or nationalism.

Speaking at a joint press conference, Mr Varadkar said he did express his concerns to Mrs May and was "very reassured".

Mrs May said that talks were continuing with the DUP and that any deal, when reached, would be made public and would not impact the UK government's impartiality in talks to restore devolved government in Northern Ireland.

The prime minister needs the support of the DUP's 10 MPs to prop up her minority government.

She repeated that the parties were working on a "confidence and supply" deal.

The two leaders expressed their desire for the parties in Northern Ireland to meet the deadline for talks of 29 June.

Speaking later on Friday, DUP MLA and former finance minister, Simon Hamilton, insisted any deal with the Conservative Party would benefit the whole of the UK, not just Northern Ireland.

Asked in Belfast if negotiations would conclude this week, Mr Hamilton said: "They will take as long as they take.

"We are working away at them and will continue to work away at them. We are hopeful of getting a resolution to them as quickly as we possibly can."

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image captionLeo Varadkar, 38, is the youngest ever leader of the Republic of Ireland

During their meeting at Downing Street, Mrs May and Mr Varadkar also discussed the impact of Brexit on the British and Irish border.

Mrs May said: "No one wants to see trade between our two countries diminished. I remain committed to finding a practical solution to the land border in Northern Ireland after Brexit."

Mr Varadkar said: "While there will be a political border between our two countries, there should not be an economic one and any border that does exist should be invisible."

The taoiseach also offered condolences from the Irish people and the Irish government to all those affected by the recent tragedies in London.

He said: "Everyone in Ireland knows someone, a friend or a relative, who lives in London.

"When there is an attack on London, we in Ireland feel it is almost an attack on us as well."

image captionLeo Varadkar discussed same-sex marriage when he met DUP leader Arlene Foster last week

Subjects for the negotiations include the status of expats, the UK's "divorce bill" and the Northern Ireland border.

Mr Varadkar also revealed that, during talks with the DUP Leader Arlene Foster in Dublin last week, he discussed the issue of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

He said he also raised the issue of a Stormont veto - known as a petition of concern - which the DUP has used to block same-sex marriage legislation.

He said there was "not a meeting of minds" with Mrs Foster on the issue, but he added "it is not a matter of if , but when, as far as Northern Ireland goes".

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