Thursday, 11 July 2019
Ceisteanna ar Reachtaíocht a Gealladh - Questions on Promised Legislation
Simon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
This is a sensitive time of year in Northern Ireland, as the Deputy knows well. Today is the eve of 12 July which, particularly for many in the unionist community, is a period of recognition of tradition, identity and many other emotive and powerful influences within communities. There is a responsibility on all of us and all communities in Northern Ireland to ensure that expression of identity does not spill over into hatred and sectarianism and that communities are protected during these activities. There is a responsibility on all parties to ensure that there are not overreactions and we all work to soften language, rather than harden it, and that when acts take place that should not, we do not respond in a way that charges up the temperature rather than defuses it.
There is serious work to do in Northern Ireland in the coming days and weeks to re-establish a functioning, devolved government in Stormont and the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement. The tensions that may exist over the next 24 hours or so might make that more difficult but we need to ensure that the next few days are managed as best they can be so we can respond in the most appropriate way possible to those who may look to instil hatred and violence in Northern Ireland and that is to make politics work. Northern Ireland needs functioning devolved institutions more than ever now than in the past 20 years. I look forward to visiting Belfast next week, to work with all the parties to try and bring good news to the people in Northern Ireland who need it.