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Coming Together

Irish PM says he will ramp up power-sharing talks with the United Kingdom

Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Sunday that he would intensify efforts with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to restore a power-sharing agreement in Northern Ireland. It comes as debate over the proposed Windsor Framework between the European Union and the U.K. continues to grow. 

"We put a huge amount of effort in the last few months into getting an agreement on revisions and reforms to the protocol," Varadkar told Irish broadcaster RTE.

Varadkar's comments came on the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, a 1998 pact between the U.K., Ireland, and Northern Irish parties that ended a 30-year violent sectarian conflict known as The Troubles. However, since then, "there has been a power-sharing stalemate ... for almost as long as it has been functioning," Bloomberg reported, largely due to disagreements over the movement of goods between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The current trade agreement, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, was enacted after the British departure from the EU left the Ireland-Northern Ireland border as the only remaining land crossing between the U.K. and EU. When the U.K. was part of the EU, trade could pass freely across the border.

To address the thorny trade and political issues arising from Brexit in Northern Ireland, the U.K. and EU crafted the Windsor Framework to amend the Northern Ireland Protocol to address concerns from businesses and pro-U.K. Northern Irish unionists. While the U.K. and EU have signed off on the agreement, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a leading faction in Northern Ireland, has not. The DUP has said it would not agree to the framework without further changes, Reuters reported. 

As debate over the framework continues, Varadkar told RTE he would have "deep engagement with the British government and also with the five parties in Northern Ireland to try and get the institutions up and running again."