Taoiseach not offended by royal portraits

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he is not offended by portraits of British monarchs hanging in Dublin Castle.

Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith last week ordered a review of the decision to take down similar paintings from the walls of the Northern Ireland Office building on the Stormont estate.

A civil servant had been paid £10,000 in compensation for being offended at having to walk past portraits of the head of state and her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh.

Mr Varadkar, who on Tuesday toured the Queen’s official residence in Northern Ireland at Hillsborough Castle, Co Down, said: “The only thing I would say is that in Dublin Castle we do have portraits of British monarchs and we haven’t taken them down and they certainly don’t offend me.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson was said to have appeared “puzzled” when told of the removal of the portraits in Belfast during a meeting with the Ulster Unionist Party recently.

Unionists have urged Mr Smith to reinstate them.

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson greeted Mr Varadkar as he arrived at Hillsborough Castle.

He said: “I think what the Taoiseach said represents the common sense approach that I believe most people in Northern Ireland feel, that there is no need to go tearing down portraits off a wall.

“I think it’s a tiny minority who make an issue out of this and we really need to get to a more sensible place.”

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