Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has dismissed as "strange" and "inaccurate" comments by the British Brexit Secretary that claimed the Irish Government was being influenced by Sinn Féin over Brexit.

David Davis said the Government had allowed Sinn Féin to influence their hardline stance on finding a solution to the border with Northern Ireland post-Brexit.

Mr Varadkar rejected this claim, saying that while the Government listens to Sinn Féin, it is no more influenced by the party than the British Prime Minister is by the Liberal Democrats or the SNP.

He said the Government's only aim was to defend the interests of the people in Ireland and in Northern Ireland and that means avoiding a hard border.

On the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, Mr Varadkar said its most important legacy was the ending of violence on the island of Ireland.

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He also said the power-sharing institutions at Stormont could be restored but it requires compromise between Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Mr Varadkar said there must be initiatives too from the Irish and British governments acting jointly to assist the parties in Northern Ireland to come to an agreement.

"It has very much been my view and the view of the Tánaiste that we need to do that and we will continue to encourage the British government to come around to our point of view," he said.

His comments come after former taoiseach Bertie Ahern said that the Government could have to "play hard ball" with Britain over Brexit. 

Earlier, Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said there was a huge obligation on the British and Irish governments, and the Northern Ireland political parties, to restore the Stormont Assembly.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Coveney said the devolved government in Northern Ireland is the "heartbeat of the Good Friday Agreement" and without it, strain is created in many areas.

He pointed out that there has not been devolved government for 15 months in the North, which impacts on many issues, including a Northern Ireland voice on Brexit.

Mr Coveney said he hoped that the focus, this week, on the magnitude of the Good Friday Agreement would inspire people.

He described comments made by UK Brexit Secretary David Davis about the border issue as "strange and inaccurate".

He added it would be helpful if Mr Davis came to Dublin to discuss the issues.