Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the announcement of a positive outcome in negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol between the EU and the UK is most welcome.

The European Union and Britain finalised a long-awaited agreement to ease the trading issues created by the Northern Ireland Protocol during a summit at Windsor, England.

Mr Varadkar said the deal is "the result of a long and difficult process to find joint solutions".

"I pay tribute to both teams who have worked hard and in good faith to bring us to this point. I also want to recognise the Northern Irish parties for their constructive engagement," said Mr Varadkar.

Rishi Sunak welcomes Ursula von der Leyen at the Fairmont Windsor Park hotel in Windsor, England
Rishi Sunak welcoming Ursula von der Leyen in Windsor, England

Speaking at a press conference alongside EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Monday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "Today's agreement delivers smooth-flowing trade within the whole United Kingdom, protects Northern Ireland's place in our union and safeguards sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland."

"This is the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship. We may have had our differences in the past but we are allies, trading partners and friends," he added of the EU, citing the war in Ukraine.

Ms Von der Leyen said the deal would allow "a stronger EU-UK relationship standing as close partners, shoulder to shoulder now and in the future," she said.

Mr Varadkar said that the Protocol has "made trade between Britain and Northern Ireland more complicated".

"Today's agreement provides solutions to those problems. Solutions that are agreed, workable and durable.

"The Irish Government will do all we can to make these new arrangements work in the interest of people and enterprises in Northern Ireland, here in the Republic of Ireland while protecting the European Single Market and the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the United Kingdom and the Good Friday Agreement," added Mr Varadkar.

Mr Sunak vowed the deal would be submitted to a vote in the UK parliament "at the appropriate time, and that vote will be respected".

He hopes the deal will win the approval of the DUP so power-sharing can be restored in Northern Ireland to get Stormont back up and running.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin said: "The consensus reached today between the EU and the UK will provide the certainty and stability that Northern Ireland needs in order to move forward."

"I heard first-hand the concerns of many unionists. I believe they will see in this a genuine response to their genuine concerns.

"This new Framework will, for example, ensure that the same food will be available on supermarket shelves in Northern Ireland as in the rest of the UK."

Mr Martin said that the focus "can now turn to getting the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement up and running".

DUP set to study Sunak's deal but warns that 'concerns' remain

The protocol, signed by former British prime minister Boris Johnson in 2020, was designed to prevent a hard border with Ireland after Brexit.

Northern Ireland has continued to follow EU rules on goods to prevent checks being needed when crossing into the Republic.

But the trade barriers created between Northern Ireland and Great Britain have angered unionists.

Jeffrey Donaldson said the DUP will consider the detail in the deal

The DUP collapsed power-sharing at Stormont last year in protest at the protocol's impact, leaving Northern Ireland without an executive or an assembly.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said: "In broad terms it is clear that significant progress has been secured across a number of areas whilst also recognising there remain key issues of concern.

"There can be no disguising the fact that in some sectors of our economy EU law remains applicable in Northern Ireland.

"The DUP will want to study the detail of what has been published today as well as examining the detail of any and all underpinning legal texts," said Mr Donaldson.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that her party will meet tonight to discuss the deal.

"Welcome news that negotiations have concluded," she tweeted.

Michelle O'Neill
Sinn Féin's first minister-elect Michelle O'Neill welcomed the deal

"We will meet tonight to assess the deal. Protection of the GFA (Good Friday Agreement), no hardening of the border and access to the EU market are key elements of any deal.

"There is a real urgency to get the Northern Executive up and running," said Ms McDonald.

Sinn Féin's first minister-elect for Stormont, Michelle O'Neill, told reporters. "I welcome the fact that a deal has been done, and I encourage the DUP to join with the rest of the parties and actually make politics work here."

Read more:
What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

NI Protocol: Key questions answered

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said his party would study in detail what was in the Windsor Framework.

He said: "We will form our opinion based on whether we believe this is a good deal for Northern Ireland and one which protects our place within the United Kingdom's internal market.

"It is important to acknowledge that we were told this was something that couldn't be done.

"If we had listened to those who said the EU had gone as far as they could then we would not have reached this point," said Mr Beattie.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said: "Our primary goals have been to retain the benefits of dual market access for businesses in Northern Ireland, restore the democratic institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and to send politicians back to work in the interests of all our people.

"My appeal to political leaders is to approach this moment in good faith and with a common determination to restore our Assembly and Executive," said Mr Eastwood.

US President Joe Biden said the deal is an "essential step" to ensuring peace from the Good Friday Agreement is preserved.

"I appreciate the efforts of the leaders and officials on all sides who worked tirelessly to find a way forward that protects Northern Ireland's place within the UK’s internal market as well as the EU’s single market, to the benefit of all communities in Northern Ireland," Mr Biden said in a statement.

The Fairmont Windsor Park hotel where Ursula von der Leyen and Rishi Sunak met

Earlier in the day, Conservative Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg warned Mr Sunak of a possible Tory revolt if the DUP does not support the deal.

The former cabinet minister told GB News: "It will all depend on the DUP. If the DUP are against it, I think there will be quite a significant number of Conservatives who are unhappy."

He said that the position of former British prime minister Boris Johnson, who he described as the "biggest figure in UK politics", will be "fundamental".

British Labour leader Keir Starmer reiterated party support for any deal but said the real test will be whether Mr Sunak "has got the strength to sell it to his backbenchers or not".

After a speech in the City of London, Mr Starmer said it is "almost inevitable" that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) will "have to play some part" after the deal, a contentious point for the DUP.