I am a neighbor, not an invader says, Taoiseach

Posted By: June 09, 2018

John Manley. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, June 9, 2018

LEO Varadkar was lauded in east and west Belfast yesterday during a symbolically-significant trip which saw him acknowledge both unionist and nationalist culture.

The Taoiseach received a warm welcome during a historic visit to the Museum of Orange Heritage at Schomberg House, with locals applauding him on arrival and departure.

The first Irish premier to visit the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland’s HQ, Mr. Varadkar said that when he comes north “I see myself as a neighbor not as an invader.”

In the afternoon, he traveled across the city to St Mary’s University College on the Falls Road, where he launched the programme for this year’s Féile a Phobail.

The Fine Gael leader reassured nationalists that the Dublin government recognized their “deep concern” about Brexit and the potential impact for north-south relations.

He also commented that while new British government ‘backstop’ proposals to avoid a hard border represented a “step in the right direction,” they “fall short.”

Mr. Varadkar concluded his trip with a visit to Belfast’s ‘gay quarter’ in the city center.