The Taoiseach tells Theresa May he opposes Direct Rule in Northern Ireland

Leo Varadkar met with the Sinn Féin leadership in Dublin

The Taoiseach tells Theresa May he opposes Direct Rule in Northern Ireland

Leo Varadkar. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Wire/PA Images

The Taoiseach has told the British Prime Minister that the government does not want to see a return to direct rule in the north.

Leo Varadkar spoke to Theresa May by phone this evening (Monday), following his meeting with Sinn Féin leaders Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O'Neill in Dublin.

Earlier, the DUP leader Arlene Foster indicated she believes direct rule may be needed, because vital services in the north were now "living hand to mouth". 

She issued a statement in which she said she was in favour of devolved government returning "without preconditions".

She said Sinn Féin was blocking progress. 

However, she also confirmed she had asked the Northern Secretary to set a budget and take key decision on the north's schools, infrastructure and hospitals.

Ms Foster said: "I am not prepared to allow this to continue.  Decisions need to be taken.
We will be raising this issue again in Parliament tomorrow. I will also be meeting the Prime Minister later this week where I will affirm our commitment to devolution but not at any price."

The Taoiseach, in his statement, said he had made his position very clear to the British Prime Minister: "The Government’s firm position is that the Good Friday Agreement and subsequent agreements must be implemented in full, and in this context the Taoiseach and Tánaiste reiterated that the Irish Government does not want to see the introduction of direct rule in Northern Ireland."

Entering the talks at government buildings this evening, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party was totally opposed to the return to direct rule. 

Ms McDonald said: "Direct rule is not acceptable, direct rule is not on the table".