I believe there will be a united Ireland in my lifetime, Varadkar says

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Picture by Liam McBurney/PA

Irish premier Leo Varadkar believes there will be a united Ireland in his lifetime.

The Taoiseach made the comments after being asked about the Wolfe Tones, an Irish band that drew huge crowds to a tent at the Electric Picnic music festival in Stradbally, Co Laois at the weekend.

The band regularly spark debate over their song Celtic Symphony, which contains the words: “Ooh, ahh, up the Ra”.

Asked about the popularity of the band, Mr Varadkar said he was at the music festival at the weekend but “didn’t get a chance” to see the Wolfe Tones or the Saw Doctors.

Read more:Wolfe Tones announce Dublin stadium gig after attracting record crowds at Electric Picnic festival

“I probably have a more sanguine view of this than maybe other people,” he told RTE Radio’s News at One.

“People like ballads and they like songs that they can sing along to.

“I think some people maybe read too much into the politics of this.

“But there is one thing that I would say: I believe we are on the path to unification.

“I believe that there will be a united Ireland in my lifetime, and in that united Ireland there is going to be a minority… and you judge the success and the quality of a country by the way it treats its minorities and that’s something we’re going to have to think about.

Read more:John Manley: Latest poll shows Irish unity campaigners need to play the long game

“Because what is, you know, a Republican ballad – a nice song to sing, easy words to learn for some people – can be deeply offensive to other people.

“Bear in mind in the southern (US) states, for example, when people sing about the confederacy and Robert E Lee, they think it’s an expression of their culture and so on, and that’s what they say.

“But that is deeply offensive to the minority black community in America and if we’re going to unite this country and unite the people of this country, a bit like (Co Down comedian and The Late Late Show host) Patrick Kielty says, we just need to have a think about how our words and how the songs we sing might be heard by other people.”