'You have Ireland's solidarity' - Varadkar on first official Downing Street visit as Brexit talks get underway

'You have Ireland's solidarity' - Varadkar on first official Downing Street visit as Brexit talks get underway

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has offered his condolences to Britain in the wake of the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower while on his first official visit to Britain.

The newly-appointed Taoiseach met with Prime Minister May in Downing Street, where he offered his sympathies on behalf of Ireland after the horrific fire and two recent terror attacks in London Bridge and Finsbury Park.

“I offer the condolences of the Irish people and the Irish Government to the British people on the enormous tragedies this this country and city has faced in recent weeks," Mr Varadkar said.

“We passed the Grenfell Tower on the way in and saw the destruction that has occurred there. Even this morning, an atrocity in Finsbury Park, on top of what’s happened on London Bridge.

“Everyone in Ireland has someone that lives in London, a relative or a close friend, and when there’s an attack in London, we feel that it’s almost an attack on us as well,” he added.

Mr Varadkar also pledged his support to the British people saying: “I want you to know you have our support and solidarity, if there is anything we can do to assist, we’re ready and willing to do so.”

While Brexit talks got underway in Brussels, in Downing Street the Taoiseach went on to say that the relationship between Britain and Ireland had been ‘transformed’ in the last few decades and that, going forward, both Britain and Ireland want to ‘enhance their close bonds.’

“As we take another step forward in the tackling the great issues that face us today, that face Europe and Northern Ireland, and the British and Irish relationship," he said.

"We go one step further and walk together in mutual comprehension and understanding, united in our shared ambition to find the best possible solutions to solve the many challenges that face us.

Prime Minister May said she ‘fully respects’ that Ireland will remain a member state of the EU, and “that’s why it’s more important than ever that our relationship goes from strength to strength.

“We’re leaving the EU but not Europe, and we want to remain committed parteners and allies of Ireland and all our friends across the continent," she added.

Mrs May also said both governments will work to ensure the border in Northern Ireland will be as ‘frictionless and seamless as possible.’

The Prime Minister also said both Britain and Ireland want the “reciprocal rights that our citizens enjoy in both countries to continue, including the rights under the Belfast Agreement.”