Negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union on Brexit have “undermined” the Good Friday peace agreement, Irish premier Leo Varadkar said Saturday.
“Brexit has undermined the Good Friday Agreement and is fraying the relationship between Britain and Ireland,” Varadkar, known as the Taoiseach, told Irish state broadcaster RTE.
“Anything that pulls the communities apart in Northern Ireland undermines the Good Friday Agreement, and anything that pulls Britain and Ireland apart undermines that relationship,” he said.
The Good Friday Agreement, signed in 1998, helped end years of deadly sectarian violence in Northern Ireland.
The terms of the Brexit agreement on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland remain one of the key sticking points in Britain’s ongoing negotiations with the EU ahead of the UK’s expected withdrawal from the bloc in March.
Varadkar’s comments came a day after politicians from both Britain and Northern Ireland hinted that a deal on the divisive border issue could be close.
Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, or DUP, said Friday after meeting with UK Brexit secretary Dominic Raab that she believes the UK is “close to a deal that will work for Northern Ireland.”
Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Dodds discuss their talks with the UK Brexit secretary.
But she added, “Northern Ireland must not be carved into an arrangement which undermines the constitutional or economic integrity of the United Kingdom.”
The DUP has a parliamentary power-sharing deal with the British Conservative Party that helps prop up Prime Minister Theresa May’s government in Westminster, and has consistently pushed for no hard border on the island of Ireland.
02:45 - Source: CNNBusiness
Funding delays leave small businesses in limbo
Funding delays leave small businesses in limbo
Mandatory Credit: Photo by JUSTIN LANE/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (11700603g)
Pedestrians walk past a closed store in New York, New York, USA, on 08 January 2021. The United States' Bureau of Labor Statistics released data today showing that the US economy lost 140,000 jobs in December and that the unemployment rate is at 6.7 percent as businesses continue to struggle with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Coronavirus Economy Impact, New York, USA - 08 Jan 2021
Another 745,000 Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits
Watch SpaceX Mars prototype rocket nail landing, explode on pad
Marriott CEO: We want travelers to feel safe
Scott Olson/Getty Images
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 15: Demonstrators participate in a protest outside of McDonald's corporate headquarters on January 15, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The protest was part of a nationwide effort calling for minimum wage to be raised to $15-per-hour. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
What a $15 minimum wage really looks like
Watch old photos come to life using AI
Warren proposes wealth tax: 'It's time for them to pay a fair share'
FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images
Nigerian former Foreign and Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala smiles during a press conference on July 15, 2020, in Geneva, following her hearing before World Trade Organization 164 member states' representatives, as part of the application process to head the WTO as Director General. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP) (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)
WTO Chief: We need equitable and affordable access to vaccines
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Goya Foods President Robert Unanue speaks at a press conference with Carlos Vecchio, the Venezuelan Ambassador who is recognized by the United States on December 21, 2020 in Doral, Florida. The two held the press conference to discuss details of a recent shipment of humanitarian aid to Venezuela, donated by Goya Foods. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Goya CEO under fire for false Trump election claims
'There should be no threats': Biden's message to union-busters
Misinformation Trump Capitol March rn orig_00004630.png
These Trump supporters are convinced he will be president again on March 4
Michael Bolton wants you to break up with Robinhood
Fed chief downplays inflation concerns
See what has happened to Trump's DC hotel after his loss
Meet the 29-year-old cancer survivor set to make history in space
In a statement released Friday, Irish Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney called the meeting with Raab “very productive,” adding that the two governments are “determined to see the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly up and running again as soon as possible.”
Northern Ireland’s power-sharing executive has not sat since January 2017, with the DUP and Sinn Fein seemingly unable to reach any agreement.
“We also discussed future East-West co-operation post-Brexit and agreed that we will work together to ensure that Ireland and the UK’s future relationship is safeguarded,” Coveney said.
Following his visit to Northern Ireland, Raab said that he was confident the UK could reach a Brexit deal “that works for all communities,” asserting that any deal reached with the EU “must avoid a hard border” between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
“We will not accept any Brexit proposals that threaten the economic or constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom. The deal we strike with the EU must avoid a hard border and work for all parts of the community in Northern Ireland,” he said.
CNN’s Nada Bashir reported from London and journalist Peter Taggart from Belfast.