Tuesday, 18 June 2019
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
64. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress made to date in the recent talks taking place in Northern Ireland to establish the executive there and enable the assembly to function; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24922/19]
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 the UK Prime Minister 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 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.
The Taoiseach and the Prime Minister, in their joint statement on 2 June, welcomed the constructive engagement in the process so far 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 over the last two weeks and there has been direct engagement on outstanding issues by the leaders of the five political parties.
Secretary of State Bradley and I are continuing to engage intensively this week on behalf the two Governments in the talks, encouraging the party leaders to move towards a final agreement.
Ultimately, it will be for the parties to rise to the challenge of reaching this 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.