Speaking about the occasion, the SDLP MLA said: “I was honoured to greet Leo Varadkar TD during his first visit to Belfast as Taoiseach. Whilst I was only recently elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly, I have over thirty-five years’ experience of running pubs and bars in Belfast city centre, throughout some of the darkest days of the troubles. An Taoiseach’s visit proves to me how far we have come from those troubled and difficult times.
“As the uncertainty of Brexit takes hold, the Irish Government’s role in Northern Ireland as a guarantor of power-sharing and the Good Friday Agreement will become critical in securing the rights and freedoms of all. I welcome an Taoiseach’s reassurance that the Irish Government will continue to work to ensure that there will be no hard border, economic or physical as a result of Brexit.
“These are uncertain times, however as we have proven in the past, when we work together we can overcome almost all obstacles. There is a huge debate going on across the continent about our future and we have been left voiceless. The utter failure of the two parties who have the big mandates to form the government is a serious dereliction of duty. ”