Despite the DUP’s call for it to be “changed”, the Irish prime minister has downplayed the need for the UK to amend the UK-EU post Brexit deal.
Leo Varadkar, speaking to Washington DC reporters, stated that it was “very important” that we “hear the DUP and that they hear their concerns”. He added: “They are the largest unionist party afterall, and that matters.”
Sky News asked Varadkar if he believes the UK government should adjust the framework with Brussels to appease DUP. He replied that “In fairness I don’t believe anyone has asked for this.” According to my understanding, the DUP asked for clarifications from British officials.
“The British government stated that they would work with all five major parties in Northern Ireland to change their domestic law. I am certain that that will happen.”
This seems to be contrary to Sir Jeffrey Donaldson from the DUP, who is keen to see “changes” in the new agreement. He addressed the National Press Club in Washington today and stated that some key areas of the agreement “require additional clarification, reworking, and change”.
He stated that while the Windsor Framework has helped to address our concerns, it is not enough.
“The Windsor Framework doesn’t address some of the fundamental issues at the core of our current problems.”
While the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol is in place, the DUP refused to be a part of Northern Ireland’s devolved government. This arrangement is seen by the party as creating a border between Northern Ireland, the UK and Ireland.
The Windsor Framework was announced by London and Brussels on February 27th with great fanfare. It was supposed to end the impasse but the DUP refused to submit to the pressure to accept it.
Varadkar also said that Sinn Fein ads in US newspapers calling for a referendum to determine Irish unity were unhelpful to the acceptance of the Windsor Framework.
He said, “I believe in unification but it’s not helpful at the moment.”
It’s a delicate moment. We are trying to get everyone onboard for the Windsor Framework. However, we should not forget what the Good Friday Agreement means.
“It states that a border poll can be held when it is clear that the majority north and south would vote in favor of it. That’s not the case at the moment.
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The DUP heavily criticised the adverts that Sinn Fein’s US agents Friends of Sinn Fein had placed.
Sir Jeffrey stated, “It is amazing that there is a full-page advertisement from Sinn Fein calling to vote for Northern Ireland’s inclusion in the United Kingdom.”
“Sinn Fein is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund a divisive campaign for a border poll. There is no evidence that Northern Ireland is growing in support of the United Kingdom leaving. Every major poll shows the exact opposite.
Unionists and nationalists can work together to secure the future of Northern Ireland. A border poll would pit unionists and nationists against one another and lead to more divisions.
Why is it that Irish politicians are from the US’s north and south?
Each year, the most prominent political figures on the island of Ireland travel to the United States in large numbers during the week leading to St Patrick’s Day.
The Taoiseach, the Irish PM, enjoys an annual chance to meet the US president. This is access that no other small country has. It is also a great opportunity for leaders of opposition parties and Northern Ireland parties to present their agendas to the world, riding on the American wave of positivity toward all things Irish.
The Taoiseach’s Oval Office bilateral Meeting is a crucial plank in Ireland’s soft diplomacy power. Leo Varadkar should be cautious with the Windsor Framework announcement just weeks before the visit.
He will enjoy the warm embrace of Joe Biden, a proud Irish-American citizen, as well as the positive publicity from Joe’s newly announced visit to the island in October for the 25th anniversary the Good Friday Agreement.
He also wants to keep the DUP from being under more pressure to accept the deal. Many believe Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has an instinct to accept at least some of the arrangements and get Stormont running again, but he must find a way to please the hardline members of his party.
One thing that could move him in the opposite direction is the strong, condemning language of the leader the Dublin government. Unionists cannot see him as weak when faced with such perceived provocations.
The annual Irish exodus is a great opportunity to reap the high rewards. The stakes are high this year.