Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that the result of the European Election in Northern Ireland is "really significant".

Naomi Long became the Alliance Party’s first MEP yesterday, with Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson and the DUP's Diane Dodds also elected.

Speaking in Brussels, Mr Varadkar said there was no question that the Brexit Party in the UK did well in the European Elections, but he hoped that the result in Northern Ireland was being noticed in Britain. 

He said there were two unionists and one nationalist MEPs in Northern Ireland for 40 years. However, he said that following this election, two out of the three MEPs in Northern Ireland support the European Union and the backstop.

He was speaking when arriving for an EU summit, where EU leaders began the process of nominating the next leader of the European Commission.

Before that, he met French President Emmanuel Macron and they both submitted a joint request to the European Commission seeking financial support for the Celtic Interconnector.

The proposed connector between the south coast of Ireland and north-west coast of France, would cost €1bn and stretch for 500km under the sea. It is part of the countries post-Brexit energy planning. 

Mr Varadkar and Mr Macron co-signed a letter on the issue during a bilateral meeting before the European Council summit.

They have written to commission president Jean-Claude Juncker requesting support for a grant application that would see the EU foot 60% of the bill.

The appointment of the next European Commission leader is one of a series of high-level appointments that will be filled over the next months, including president of the European Central Bank and the president of the European Council.

However, there are already tensions between rival political groupings over which candidate should get which position, in the aftermath of last weekend's European Parliament elections.