Video: Taoiseach says deal stalled by DUP would have safeguarded unrestricted rights of Derry folk to work, study and do business in Europe

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, T.D., has said the Brexit deal between the European Commission and the United Kingdom, which was stalled by the DUP on Monday, would have safeguarded the rights of people from Derry to work, study and do business in Paris, Madrid and Athens, without restriction.

He said people in Yorkshire forfeited that right by voting to leave the European Union last year. Speaking in the Dáil, Mr. Varadkar, sought to reassure unionists by saying he no more wanted a border in the Irish Sea than he wanted one between Derry and Donegal.

The Taoiseach in Derry.

The Taoiseach in Derry.

He said: “We do not want there to be a border in the Irish Sea any more than we want there to be a border between Newry and Dundalk or between Letterkenny and Derry. Our aim has always been practical - to allow people to live their lives and carry out their business in the normal way in which they have done it for 20 years.

“I refer to cross-border workers, people involved in business, traders, exporters and students living in one jurisdiction and studying in the other. That has always been our objective. We were against Brexit in the first place because of the risk of the disruption that could be caused by it and the imposition of the Border.”

He said the deal put off by the DUP this week would have continued to allow “people born in Belfast and Derry, to study in Paris, if they wished, to travel to Athens and to work in Madrid”.

He added: “People born in Sheffield and Leeds are giving up that right by leaving the European Union.”

The Taoiseach said that the deal would also have ensured interregional and peace funding would continue to flow to the North West for the next four years at least.

“We also agreed that INTERREG and PEACE funding, which are so important for Border areas, would continue through to 2020 and 2021 and be favourably considered for the period thereafter,” said the Taoiseach.