Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of An Taoiseach

Taoiseach's Meetings and Engagements

Photo of Micheál MartinMicheál Martin (Leader of the Opposition; Cork South Central, Fianna Fail)
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5. To ask the Taoiseach if he has spoken with Prime Minister Johnson recently; and if so, the issues that were discussed. [5552/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Taoiseach, Department of An Taoiseach; Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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I spoke with the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday 15 May. I offered my sympathies to him on his recent illness and hospitalisation, and I also congratulated him on the birth of his son.

We discussed the general Covid 19 situation and our respective experiences in seeking to contain the virus and manage its impacts. We shared information on our respective plans to start easing restrictions. We also talked about how Covid related travel restrictions might be adapted, and agreed that we both want the common travel area to be respected in our respective approaches.

We discussed Brexit and noted the state of play after last week’s round of negotiations. We also recalled our commitment to working together on strengthening North - South and East -West links after Brexit, and looked forward to being able to make progress in the period ahead.

I also spoke with First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill on Friday, 15th May, when I informed them of the Government plans to start easing the Covid related restrictions from the 18th of May as set out in the Roadmap. We also discussed ongoing North South cooperation on dealing with Covid and the Memorandum of Understanding agreed to underpin and strengthen North South co-operation on the public health response to the pandemic.

I had previously spoken by phone with the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on 19 March. The main focus of our discussion on that occasion was the Covid 19 situation and the actions being taken by the two Governments, including in particular in relation to closing schools. We both expressed the wish that political parties in Northern Ireland work collaboratively in the recently restored Executive, and briefly discussed the British proposals on legacy issues.

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