Varadkar: "When there is an attack on London, we feel in Ireland that is almost an attack on us"

The Taoiseach made his first trip overseas to meet UK Prime Minister Theresa May

Varadkar: "When there is an attack on London, we feel in Ireland that is almost an attack on us"

Image: Philip Toscano/AP/Press Association Images

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar offered his condolences to the UK following the Grenfell tower block fire, as well as the numerous terror-related incidents that have affected the country.

Varadkar spoke of the close ties between the two countries as he met Prime Minister Theresa May for the first time, saying that Ireland was "ready and willing" to assist if necessary.

"I think pretty much everyone in Ireland has somebody who lives here, who's a relative or a close friend," he said. "When there is an attack on London, we feel in Ireland that is almost an attack on us as well.".

He said the last minute meetings "underline and emphasise" the strength of Ireland's relationship with the UK.

Upon arriving at 10 Downing Street, Varadkar said he was reminded of a specific scene from a famous film.

"This is my first time in this building, and there is a little thrill in it as well. We spoke on the way in and I was reminded of that famous scene in Love, Actually where Hugh Grant does hiss dance down the stairs. 

"Apparently it wasn't actually filmed here, so I didn't get a chance to see the stairs."



Meanwhile, Prime Minister Theresa May has told the Irish people she wants a full trade agreement with the EU to try and keep the Irish border open.

The two leaders have agreed to pursue an "invisible" border as they met for the first time this afternoon.

The meeting coincides with the formal start of talks to begin the British process of leaving the EU, in Brussels this afternoon.

Asked for a message to the Irish people who might be fearful of Brexit, Theresa May said she was determined to find workable solutions to keep the border clear.

"What I think we need to do is to build a new deep and special partnership with the European Union," she said. "We want that comprehensive free trade agreement which enables us to have as seamless and friction-less a border as possible."

Northern Ireland

Vardakar added that he was assured that Theresa May's reliance on the DUP won't undermine talks to restore power-sharing in the North.

Talks between Theresa May's Conservatives and the DUP are still ongoing ahead of the official opening of the British parliament in Wednesday.

Varadkar had previously expressed some concern that Theresa May's government may not be able to act fairly if it was depending on the DUP to keep it in power in London.

But after meeting with Theresa May in London this evening, the Taoiseach says he now has no such concerns.

Máire Whelan

The Taoiseach  vowed not to wash his hands of the appointment of the former attorney general as a judge.

Máire Whelan is now officially a member of the court of appeal after being appointed today - only a week after being nominated to the role.

This evening Varadkar denied that the controversy over her appointment could lead to a collapse of the government.

But he admitted he would have liked if other matters had been to the fore during his first week in charge.