Theresa May’s reliance on DUP votes creates a problem, Leo Varadkar claims

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Irish parliament that the UK Conservative government’s reliance on DUP votes “creates a problem” in restoring a government in Northern Ireland.

Speaking in the chamber on Tuesday, Mr Varadkar said that talks last week between the main Northern Ireland political parties, the Secretary of State Karen Bradley and his deputy Simon Coveney saw “little or no progress was made”.

“Frankly, the fact that the Conservative Party and the British Government depend on the votes of the DUP in Westminster to continue in existence creates a problem as well,” the Taoiseach added.

“This is because it does not allow the UK Government to play the role it would have played in the past by putting pressure on unionism and all parties to get back around the table and come to an agreement.

“These are two new dynamics that did not exist in the past when institutions broke down. They are two very unwelcome dynamics.”

The DUP currently has a confidence-and-supply arrangement with Prime Minister Theresa May and the 10 DUP MPs are often key votes in the Commons.

Mr Varadkar added that his government is dedicated to seeing a government restored in Stormont.

“The (Irish) Government wants to see an agreement in place to secure the operation of the devolved institutions and will continue to engage with the British government and the political parties in Northern Ireland to seek urgent progress in that area in the period immediately ahead,” he added.

Theresa May and Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar said Theresa May’s dependence on DUP votes ‘creates a problem’ (John Stillwell/PA)

Closer to home, Mr Varadkar has faced criticism after a spending overrun in the National Children’s Hospital saw funding diverted from the long-awaited A5 road from Dublin to Derry.

However, the Taoiseach laid blame for delays at the door of the DUP and Sinn Fein’s inability to restore a power-sharing executive.

“The A5 is not delayed because of a reprofiling by government, it is delayed because of legal challenges in Northern Ireland and the fact there is no minister to sign off on the project,” he said.

“Once it gets back on track, the government will be more than happy to provide the £25 million, which we had intended to provide this year.

“If the road starts this year, I’ll be happy to be present at the sod turning, I may even bring the cheque with me. We are not going to pay £25 million to the NI authorities for a road that hasn’t even started.”

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