Irish premier concerned ‘to see UK disengaging from the world’

Irish premier Leo Varadkar has spoken of his concerns that the UK is “disengaging from the world”.

The Taoiseach commented on language coming from the Conservative Party conference this week about leaving the European Convention on Human Rights, describing it as “not the Britain I know”.

Mr Varadkar was speaking in Spain ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak where they were attending a European Political Community meeting.

Asked if he was concerned about language coming from the Tory conference this week, Mr Varadkar said: “I am, to be honest.

“The Britain, the United Kingdom that I love and admire is the country of the Magna Carta, the country that founded a parliamentary democracy and the country that helped to write the European Convention on Human Rights.

“And it does bother me to see the United Kingdom disengaging from the world, whether it’s reducing its budget for international aid, whether it’s leaving the European Union, and now even talking about withdrawing from the European Convention on Human Rights, that’s not the Britain I know.”

Conservative Party Conference 2023
Mr Varadkar was speaking in Spain ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Act received royal assent last month despite widespread opposition from political parties, victims’ organisations in Northern Ireland and the Irish government.

Aspects of the laws include a limited form of immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences to those who co-operate with the new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery. It will also halt future civil cases and inquests.

Ireland is seeking legal advice about taking an inter-state legal case to the European Court of Human Rights.

“That’s something the Irish government is very opposed to, so are the victims’ groups, so are the five main parties in Northern Ireland.

“We believe it is potentially a contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights and certainly I will be saying that to the Prime Minister.”

Mr Varadkar also said the issue of restoring the Stormont institutions, which are not operating due to a DUP protest over post-Brexit trading arrangements, was very important to both governments.

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