Tuesday, 11 June 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
126. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position in respect of the talks with the political parties in Northern Ireland and the UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland regarding the need to have the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive restored at an early date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23634/19]
The absence of vital institutions of the Good Friday Agreement is of grave concern for the Government, as it is for the British Government.
On 26 April, the Taoiseach and Prime Minister May announced a new phase of political talks in Northern Ireland, involving the five main parties, together with the British and Irish Governments. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, and I convened these talks in Belfast on 7 May.
There has been constructive engagement in the process and it is clear that the parties want to see the institutions of the Agreement operating again on a sustainable basis. There has been broad consensus on some issues, but also key issues are still to be resolved.
I and the Secretary of State believe that there is a genuine but narrow window of opportunity to reach agreement in the period immediately ahead and that it is essential to continue and intensify talks to this end.
In their joint statement on 2 June, the Taoiseach and Prime Minister welcomed the constructive engagement in the process and underlined that it is imperative that the parties now move without delay to engaging substantively on the shape of a final agreement.
Accordingly, the two Governments supported an intensification of the talks last week and there was engagement on outstanding issues by the leaders of the five political parties. Secretary of State Bradley and I are intensively engaged on behalf the two Governments in the talks at Stormont again this week, to encourage the party leaders to move towards a final agreement.
Ultimately, it will be for the parties to rise to the challenge of finding an agreement. This will be difficult, but the two Governments believe that this can, and must, be achieved to get the devolved, power-sharing Assembly and Executive and the North South Ministerial Council functioning again.
The Government will continue to do everything in its power, in accordance with its responsibilities as a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, to secure the effective operation of all of its institutions.