The DUP leader claimed she is "very concerned at the message Leo Varadkar is sending"

The Taoiseach is facing criticism as he prepares to open a Belfast festival which some link to the republican movement.

Leo Varadkar is in the North for a visit today, where he'll launch the programme for Féile an Phobail in west Belfast.

The festival programme includes a talk by the leaders of 'The Great Escape', when IRA prisoners broke out of Long Kesh.

Austin Stack, whose father was murdered by the IRA, has criticised the move - while DUP leader Arlene Foster says she's "very concerned" at the message the Taoiseach is sending by attending.

Leo Varadkar says it's a community festival which he is happy to attend, and that the event is being headlined by Olly Murs who isn’t 'a die-hard republican'.

Mary Lou McDonald has also defended Mr Varadkar's decision to attend a "very fine festival", saying she thinks "people need to be a bit more thoughtful when they react to initiatives like this".

As part of the trip to Belfast, the Taoiseach will also visit the Museum of Orange Heritage.