Brexit deal not to affect Good Friday pact: Irish PM

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the 1998 Belfast Agreement, which largely ended the violence in Northern Ireland, will not be affected by the draft Brexit deal reached between the U.K. and the EU.

Speaking at the Irish parliament, Varadkar said the deal contains the essential aspects of the backstop that the Irish government has always wanted.

Varadkar refrained from giving any details of the draft document, saying, he did not wish to say anything that might upend that [U.K.] Cabinet meeting or make things any more difficult.

It does have to be there, it does have to be legally operable, it can't have an expiry date, it can't be possible for one side to withdraw from it unilaterally, Varadkar said.

It is our intention that the backstop should never have to be invoked and if it is invoked it should be temporary, he added. He said his government required the backstop to be operable unless and until it was replaced with something better.

He said the agreement, if approved, will be an international treaty between EU, including Ireland, and the U.K., and being an international treaty it would continue to apply even if a change of government in Ireland or the U.K.

He said the document will have to be ratified by Westminster and European parliament.

My reading is that the Good Friday Agreement is not negatively impacted, Irish prime minister said.

Varadkar said the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday Agreement) would be protected and that included a recognition of the territory of the U.K. and the principle of consent and he was happy to have that included in the agreement.

According to the draft deal, the backstop will apply to the entire U.K. and see the country remain in a customs union with the EU if no solutions to avoid a hard border are found.

Good Friday Agreement

The Troubles -- a 30-year-long period of sectarian violence -- ended in 1998 after the Belfast Agreement put an end to decades of armed struggle in the divided U.K. region of Northern Ireland.

The U.K. and the Republic of Ireland inked the deal, brokered by the U.S. and eight political parties in Northern Ireland, on April 10, 1998.

The deal -- dubbed the 'Good Friday agreement' -- largely saw the end of the Troubles-era violence, in which more than 3,500 people lost their lives.

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who played a major role in the negotiations 20 years ago, is expected to join the celebrations in Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.

Former prime ministers of Britain and Ireland, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, as well as another key figure, former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, will be attending a conference in Belfast about the 20th anniversary of the agreement.

UK Cabinet discusses draft deal

A key meeting of Prime Minister Theresa May's Cabinet on Wednesday got underway to discuss the draft Brexit agreement, reached by negotiators in Brussels last week.

Calling for a crucial Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, May had said a draft agreement on Brexit has been reached with the EU negotiators in a major development after more than two years of Brexit negotiations.

Source: Anadolu Agency