The Taoiseach has said he is trying to defend the Good Friday Agreement from some Brexiteers who are seeking to undermine it.
Amid calls for the Government to establish a special cabinet committee to examine the question of a united Ireland, Leo Varadkar said such a move would be provocative towards unionists.
He made the comments the day after Tanaiste Simon Coveney tweeted that some people who wanted the UK to leave the EU were risking Northern Ireland’s fragile peace process by questioning the agreement.
The British and Irish Governments have reiterated that they are fully committed to the 20-year accord amid a deep political impasse at Stormont.
“We are trying to defend the Good Friday Agreement from some people who are seeking to undermine it,” the Taoiseach said.
“We are also trying to get the Assembly and Executive up and running.
“If we were now to establish a cabinet committee on Irish unity it would be unhelpful in our efforts to defend the Good Friday Agreement to say we were looking beyond that because we are not.”
He added: “The Good Friday Agreement is the best way forward in my view in Northern Ireland and also I think it would be provocative towards unionism.
“While there may be occasions in which you may need to provoke people I would not do it for the sake of setting up a cabinet committee. It would have to be something that would result in a real outcome for people.”
Mr Varadkar made the comments in response to a question by Sinn Fein’s Pearse Doherty about the prospects of a special high-level Government committee.
And the Taoiseach said that if Brexiteers want respect for the June 2016 referendum which led to the UK’s split from Europe then they should respect the referendums in Northern Ireland and the Republic which overwhelmingly backed the Good Friday Agreement.
“I would ask those people to respect our referendums and the sovereign and democratic will of people in Northern Ireland and Ireland,” he said.