Leo Varadkar advises Irish citizens not to book Christmas flights yet

By Shane Harrison
BBC News NI Dublin Correspondent

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Leo Varadkar says the Irish government is not considering putting soldiers on the border with Northern Ireland

The Tánaiste (Irish Deputy Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar has said he would not yet advise Irish citizens living abroad to book flights home for Christmas.

He said that with six weeks until the festive season it was "too soon" to give such advice.

Covid-19 travel restrictions are still in place in the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Varadkar's comment comes after UK leaders discussed how to help families "see their loved ones this Christmas".

UK government sources said topics on their agenda included international travel and mass testing.

An Irish politician representing a constituency on the country's border with Northern Ireland has again called for the Irish army to be sent to police cross-border traffic and enforce Covid-19 travel rules.

Image source, PA Media

Independent TD (Irish MP) Peter Fitzpatrick said Omeath and Carlingford in County Louth were being "abused by northerners coming down".

"The amount of northern number plates on cars I see is unreal," he told the Dáil (Irish parliament).

Mr Varadkar replied that the Irish government was not considering putting soldiers on the border, saying the Garda Síochána (Irish police) could cope.

"The government fought for too long to take all armies off the border and we certainly don't want to be the jurisdiction that puts uniforms on the border again," he said.

The tánaiste said that the Republic of Ireland was making "enormous progress" in curbing the spread of coronavirus but acknowledged that cross-border travel posed a "significant risk".

Mr Varadkar also said people had to respect that the Northern Ireland Executive had adopted different approaches in dealing with the virus to the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.