Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar weighed in on reaching an agreement to resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol.

As we’ve been reporting, Rishi Sunak is in Belfast today for talks with Northern Ireland’s political leaders.

Politicians who have had discussions with the prime minister generally agree that progress has been made towards a new deal but there is still work to be done.

Speaking to reporters in Limerick this afternoon, Mr Varadkar echoed the sentiment.

“I think a lot of progress has been made. We’re not there yet, but for sure there’s been a lot of trust built between the European Commission and the Irish and UK governments,” he said.

“I do believe that a deal is possible within a week.

“It’s not finalized, we haven’t seen the final text, but we’re getting there.

“I firmly believe that in the next week or two we can sign a deal between the EU and the UK and I think that will be a huge boost.”

Mr Varadkar added that there was a “window of opportunity” for a deal.

“When windows of opportunity disappear, sometimes they don’t reappear for quite a while,” he continued.

“So I really hope everyone in Ireland and Europe, the UK and Northern Ireland will take this opportunity.”

Mr Varadkar said he would hold talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this weekend and had talks with some of Northern Ireland’s political parties on Thursday and Friday.

“One of the things we’ve agreed on is not discussing any of the details of what might be agreed, because I think part of it is that we were able to do that, why the trust and the confidence that’s been built over the last few months, the whole process It’s all confidential and private,” he said.

“It helped us get to the point where there was a chance of getting an agreement on the protocol; getting Ireland’s relationship back to a very positive footing with the UK and Europe; and most importantly, that amazing prize is now very close, making Northern Ireland’s parliament, executive branch and government are back to normal and the Good Friday Agreement is working as intended.”

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