Leo Varadkar has a very clear vision for a United Ireland
"A country in which nobody feels they've been left out..."
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is our guest on Ireland Unfiltered this week.
Speaking with host Dion Fanning on a number of issues including Brexit, the housing crisis, and his reasons for wearing the shamrock poppy, Varadkar, when asked "what would a United Ireland look like to you", replied:
"I think, at the outset, a United Ireland worth having, is one whereby people are united, whereby everyone in the country would feel they're part of the country, a country in which nobody feels they've been left out and that's one thing I would always think when people talk about United Ireland in the traditional sense, bringing Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland together into a 32 county state.
"I would not like to visit on unionists in Northern Ireland what, I believe, was visited on nationalists and Catholics in Northern Ireland - people feeling that this wasn't their state, that they weren't really part of it, that they were bounced into it or left in it against their will.
"That's why, notwithstanding the difficulties in the last year or two with Brexit, I always try to be very sensitive to that fact, that there is a different tradition on our island, a different nationality, people who feel themselves to be British, and they are British and we need to respect that, and I don't think if we ever had a United Ireland into the future that it could be just a bit like East Germany and West Germany - the Republic taking over the north."
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Pressed on whether a United Ireland would require more than just a population shift in the north, Varadkar continued:
"I know what the Good Friday Agreement says. I'm one of the co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, I stand by that agreement and that says that if, in a referendum, 50% plus one person in Northern Ireland voted for a United Ireland that that would then come about.
"I wouldn't like it to come about that way, if it ever does come about.
"I'd like it to come about in such a way that you'd have a strong - as much as possible anyway - cross-community support for it. The Good Friday Agreement was adopted by 97% of people, I think, voting here south of the border for it, 71% in Northern Ireland. That's a really strong mandate for a constitutional settlement and it's one that I think we should try to make work."
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