Leo Varadkar welcomes German Chancellor to Dublin for Brexit talks
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has arrived in Dublin for Brexit talks with Irish premier Leo Varadkar.
Ms Merkel was greeted by Mr Varadkar at Farmleigh House in the capital on Thursday afternoon.
Her visit is viewed as a sign of her solidarity with Ireland as the Brexit saga rumbles on.
Their discussions are set to focus on the latest developments ahead of the special European Council meeting next week.
Prior to their sit-down, the two leaders will take part in a round-table discussion with 15 people from Northern Ireland and the border area about the impact a no-deal scenario could have on their lives.
They will hear from some victims of violence, as well as farmers and business people.
It comes as efforts intensify to find a way through the Brexit impasse.
The UK Government and the Labour Party’s negotiating teams are locked in intensive talks in the hope of agreeing a position which could win a majority in the House of Commons in the coming days to allow Theresa May to request a short delay to Article 50.
Mr Varadkar held talks with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday.
Ahead of Ms Merkel’s visit, an Irish Government spokesman said the German Chancellor had been a “strong and unwavering ally of Ireland” as the country responds to the challenges posed by Brexit.
He said: “Ahead of their formal meeting, the Taoiseach and Chancellor will participate in a round-table discussion with people from Northern Ireland and the border area, who will share their personal experience and perspectives on the impact any return to a hard border would have on border communities and businesses.
“These are people for whom the border is a very real issue – people from communities along the border, from business, and with direct personal experience of conflict before the Good Friday Agreement.
“It is important to hear their voices as we work together to deal with the challenges that Brexit presents.”
The spokesman said the meeting is also an opportunity for the two leaders to consider other issues on the EU’s agenda, and reflect on how Ireland and Germany can strengthen their “already excellent relations”.
Speaking in the Irish Parliament on Wednesday, the Taoiseach said he hoped Mr Corbyn would show leadership and come up with a compromise plan with Mrs May.
Mr Varadkar also said the growing frustration among a number of EU countries over the Brexit process is “worrying” for Ireland.
Discussing his meeting with Mr Macron, Mr Varadkar said he was “really heartened by the enormous support” that France continued to demonstrate towards Ireland, and by Mr Macron’s statement that Ireland would never be abandoned by France or by the EU.
“Whatever issues arise, if there is no deal, they are very much seen as shared problems, ones that Ireland will try to resolve with our partners in France and the European Commission,” he added.
“It’s not a questions of a big stick or us being put under undue pressure, but there are reasonable questions being asked as to how we will protect the integrity of the single market and the single union.”