Northern Ireland news

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar fails to mention Brexit or guarantee on border issues in New Year statement

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire

TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar failed to mention Brexit or his guarantee on the border issues in his New Year's Day statement.

Mr Varadkar addressed the introduction of abortion services in the Republic, the minimum wage and the establishment of Technological University Dublin in his message yesterday.

But the ongoing concerns surrounding Brexit and his guarantee that there will be no border between Northern Ireland and the Republic after the UK has left the European Union were not among the issues included in his statement.

Theresa May's Brexit deal, which includes a backstop preventing a hard border, is expected to be voting down in Westminster before the end of the month.

Mr Varadkar said the introduction of abortion services in the Republic was among "important milestones" in social progress being made.

"As of today, abortion services in Ireland are legal," he said.

"Approximately, 15 women decide to end their pregnancies every day. This week, they have over 150 doctors working in the community available and contracted to help them.

"Hospital based services for more complex cases will be phased in over the coming weeks."

Among the other milestones identified in his New Year message was a rise in the minimum wage and fall in unemployment and poverty levels.

He said the minimum wage had risen to €9.80 an hour to "its highest ever level" and added that poverty had fallen for four years in a row.

Mr Varadkar also addressed the establishment of Technological University Dublin and the plans for Children’s Hospital Ireland, which brings together the three existing children’s hospitals in Dublin under a single board.

"I believe these four important milestones represent some of the social and economic progress we are making as a country," he said.

"I look forward to building on that with my government and Oireachtas colleagues in 2019."

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