Leo Varadkar defends calling for a united Ireland during Fine Gael Ard Fheis speech 1 month ago

Leo Varadkar defends calling for a united Ireland during Fine Gael Ard Fheis speech

"I gave that speech a lot of thought, and I gave thought to the timing as well."

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has defended calling for a united Ireland during his speech at the Fine Gael Ard Fheis earlier in the week.

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Speaking on RTÉ's The Week in Politics on Sunday the Tánaiste said that he gave the speech where he said that unification could be possible during his lifetime "a lot of thought".

"I gave that speech a lot of thought, and I gave thought to the timing as well, and this was the week of Ard Fheis, and Ard Fheis was talking about the future of Ireland and Ireland's place in the world, and I think it would be remiss of us not be involved in that conversation," he said.

"I understand the criticism, and I'm willing to take that on board. But, it's also the fact that there are people in this state who will always be uncomfortable talking about unification.

"It will always be the wrong time. It was the wrong time during the three years of Brexit because of those sensitive negotiations, it was the wrong time this week because of the difficulty the DUP is having. It will be the wrong time for the next few months because of the negotiations between the protocol and the marching season. It will be the wrong time next year because we'll be running into the assembly elections."

Varadkar added that there is a "growing middle ground" in the North of Ireland, saying that his party wants to speak with "young people in particular" about the possibility of unification.

"So for those people who are uncomfortable, including those in my own party who are uncomfortable talking about unification, they will always be uncomfortable," he continued.

"There is no majority anymore in Northern Ireland, either for unionism or for nationalism. There is a growing middle ground, people who want to talk about this, young people in particular, and we want to talk to them."

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His comments come as he said that Fine Gael should establish a Northern Ireland branch as part of its mission to work towards Irish unification on Tuesday evening at the party’s Ard Fheis in which he spoke largely about Northern Ireland.

He said: "The assembly elections and the census tell us that in Northern Ireland, there is no majority anymore.

"There are three minorities, one that defines itself as British and unionist, another as Irish and nationalist, and a third and growing middle ground - many born since the Good Friday Agreement - who do not wish to be defined in this way. They see themselves as both British and Irish or perhaps simply Northern Irish."