TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar has praised the British and EU governments for coming to a “positive outcome” in ongoing negotiations around the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol.
Speaking following the announcement of a new deal, titled the Windsor Framework, which will replace the problematic Protocol, Mr Varadkar claimed it was a “positive outcome in negotiations on the Protocol between the EU and the UK” and one that was “most welcome”.
"It is the result of a long and difficult process to find joint solutions, and I pay tribute to both teams who have worked hard and in good faith to bring us to this point,” he said.
“I also want to recognise the Northern Ireland parties for their constructive engagement.”
The Taoiseach explained: "There is no doubt that Brexit has been disruptive to life on this island, especially in Northern Ireland.
“While the Protocol exists to minimise that disruption, to prevent a hard border and ensure free movement and free trade between North and South, its operation has resulted in some problems for businesses and citizens in Northern Ireland. It has made trade between Britain and Northern Ireland more complicated.
"[This] agreement provides solutions to those problems. Solutions that are agreed, workable and durable.
"If implemented, it will bring stability and certainty to a situation that has been in flux since the decision of the Brexit referendum, almost seven years ago.”
Mr Varadkar acknowledged that time will now need to be taken for the parties in Northern Ireland to review the detail of the Framework – which offers a new green lane to ensure the free-flow in trade of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland.
But he urged those parties to fully support the new deal.
"I appreciate that people will want some time for close and careful review of the Windsor Framework,’ the Taoiseach said.
“I hope that when they do, they will be able to give it their full support, and that it will lead to an early restoration of the Assembly and Executive in Northern Ireland and also the North South Ministerial Council-allowing the Belfast/GFA to work again and to develop.”
He explained: "I firmly believe that people in Northern Ireland do not want to return to divisions of the past. They want to make progress together. A shared future.
"Like people everywhere, they want political institutions to sort out the issues that matter in their daily lives – healthcare, the cost of living, housing, the economy.
"The agreement also paves the way for new and more positive relations between the UK and the EU and between the UK and Ireland.
"This is a time of great trouble in the world. We need to be partners and friends. There is so much more that unites us than divides us.”
The Taoiseach added: "This agreement also helps to restore and strengthen relations between Ireland and Great Britain.
“When we were both members of the EU, we met each other frequently and had more opportunities to work closely together.
“I look forward to discussing with Prime Minister Sunak how we can take relations between us, post-Brexit, to a new and more positive level.
"For now, my congratulations to President von der Leyen, Prime Minister Sunak and their teams.
“Our thanks to Vice-President of the Commission, Maros Sefcovic, who really got to know the people of Northern Ireland and to understand their concerns. His dedicated work is reflected in this agreement.
"For our part, the Irish Government will do all we can to make these new arrangements work in the interest of people and enterprises in Northern Ireland, here in the Republic of Ireland while protecting the European Single Market and the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the Good Friday Agreement.”