Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Northern Ireland: Statements
I very much welcome these statements at this critical time. It has been more than 850 days since the Assembly last met in Stormont, and while Stormont lies silent, the political vacuum this creates is certainly not helpful. The Acting Chairman is a very active member of the Committee on European Union Affairs, which deals an awful lot with Brexit issues. He has seen first-hand in recent years the way in which we in our own small way are doing our best to try to ensure that the fallout from Brexit is minimised, whether for our farming community or any other community, whether tourism related or business related, that the lot of the people is protected, and that the negative impact Brexit would have is minimised. I see the vacuum created by Stormont's lying silent as not helpful to us. In the past a major point was proven in politics working.
I do not wish to pick out particular people but it would be remiss of me in a debate about Northern Ireland not to mention people such as the late Martin McGuinness, who, using political means and alongside many others, achieved so much in ensuring that the journey we were on in Ireland led us to a peaceful solution. This was achieved by using the political process. We saw first-hand the way in which at a critical time he was able to get on with people such as the late Ian Paisley. They got on for the betterment of the people of Northern Ireland and our part of Ireland. To this day we are reaping the benefits of the political work that was done by a great many people. I do not care whether they came from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or Sinn Féin or were non-party or from the religious communities. These people all soldiered together to ensure that the bombings, the murder and the mayhem stopped, to a great degree anyway, and that could only be welcomed.
When I see what is happening in the North now and the fact that the Assembly is not working or performing, it is not welcome.
Looking at legislation and the strident moves that politicians are making not just in Dáil Éireann but throughout Europe, the political vacuum in the North is not helpful. I ask the Government to do everything it can through the respective ministerial roles to ensure we can assist in putting the Assembly together. Politicians should do what people want them to do; it is about them doing their work. I do not care what levels politicians are at, whether it is at local, national or international level, as all people want is politicians to perform their duties. It is not happening the way it should be at Stormont. I say strongly to the Government to put its shoulder to the wheel. We must all do our level best to ensure we get the Assembly up and running again, putting politicians back to work and doing what they should do and were elected to do in the first instance. They should be having debates like this one and hearing every person's view is very important.