all smiles | 

Leo Varadkar poses with actor Jimmy Nesbitt at Irish unity conference in Dublin

The Tainaiste posed with the Ballymena actor backstage at the massive event

Leo Varadkar with actor Jimmy Nesbitt.

Clodagh MeaneySunday World

Leo Varadkar has shared a snap posing with actor Jimmy Nesbitt.

The Tainaiste met the Ballymena man backstage at Ireland’s Future conference which took place in Dublin’s 3Arena on Saturday.

Taking to Instagram stories, the Fine Gael leader posted a picture of the pair smiling down the camera.

Jimmy Nesbitt, who comes from a unionist background, is just one of the many keynote speakers at the event organised by Ireland’s Future, a non-profit group who are advocating for a border poll.

Ahead of the event, Nesbitt told Belfast Telegraph that he was not jumping on any “bandwagon”.

“I think people are imagining that I’m jumping or joining some bandwagon, and I’m certainly not.

“I come from a particular background, of which I am particularly proud of, and I don’t refute or shy away from that.”

He conceded however that there needs to be a public debate on the issue.

“I’m going down to give my perspective because there needs to be change and there needs to be public debate,” he said.

“Things like this can only increase that public debate. For too long this has all been left in the hands of politicians.”

Leo Varadkar also gave an address at the conference.

He told the crowd of 5,000 attendees: “We need to acknowledge that cross-community engagement in Northern Ireland and between the north and the south remains far short of where it needs to be if we want to build a new Ireland."

Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald also took to the stage, however, Taoiseach Micheal Martin was notably absent from the event. He instead attended the Fianna Fail Ard Fheis.

Dublin actor Colm Meaney also gave an address at the event, prior to which he told Irish Independent he would like to see a Sinn Fein government.

“I would certainly like to see a Sinn Féin government. I think their policies generally, not just in relation to a united Ireland, are a lot more progressive than either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael,” he said.

“Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have been in power for the entire existence of the State.

“They have had more than ample opportunity to put into practice their policies. They haven’t worked, either economically or in terms of the issue of the Border.

“It’s time for change, and young people are aware of that. Young people aren’t afraid of that,” he added.

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