Written answers

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Northern Ireland

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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193. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the progress to date in implementing New Decade, New Approach; if he has had any recent discussions with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and with members of the Northern Ireland Executive in relation to outstanding issues pertaining to the agreement; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18049/21]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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The New Decade, New Approach (NDNA) agreement was a significant shared achievement by the parties in Northern Ireland together with the two Governments, and its full implementation is a key priority for the Irish Government.

The important work of the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) has resumed, to develop cooperation on an all-island basis. Two successful NSMC plenary meetings have now taken place, as well as the full range of Sectoral meetings at Ministerial level, and progress continues across the breadth of North-South areas of cooperation.

The Irish Government commitments that were made at the time of the NDNA are focused on working with the Executive through the North South Ministerial Council to deliver projects that benefit people across the island, including greater connectivity between North and South; investing in the North West region and in border communities; supporting the Irish language in Northern Ireland; and supporting reconciliation as an integral part of the Peace Process.

As part of the NDNA, it was also agreed that there would be regular review meetings involving the two Governments at Ministerial level and the parties to monitor progress on its implementation, and the delivery of commitments by each Government. On Monday 11 January, I participated by video-conference in the first Implementation Review Meeting alongside the First Minister, deputy First Minister, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and party leaders in Northern Ireland.

During that meeting, we discussed the progress that has been made over the past year on the implementation of our respective commitments, and the shared challenges we face in the context of both the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. We reaffirmed our collective commitment to the ongoing implementation of the NDNA. It is hoped that we can arrange a second implementation review meeting in the period ahead.

I will continue to engage closely with the Secretary of State, and the Executive, as we work in support of the full implementation of the New Decade, New Approach agreement.

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