Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (171)

Niall Collins

Question:

171. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of talks to restore the Executive in Northern Ireland; the progress made to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28034/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The absence of vital institutions of the Good Friday Agreement is of grave concern for the Government, as it is for the British Government.

Inclusive multi-party talks are continuing in Belfast involving all five main parties and the two Governments, with a view to reaching agreement which would secure the operation of all the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement at the earliest possible opportunity.

I have been engaging extensively with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to encourage the parties to reach an accomodation on outstanding issues and engage substantively on the shape of a final agreement.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and I believe that there remains a genuine but narrow window of opportunity to reach agreement in the period immediately ahead and intensive talks are continuing to this end.

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.

The awful murder of Lyra McKee and the outpouring of public feeling that followed demands a serious response at political level. People want to see real progress made. There is no patience for anything except urgent and determined progress, and an openness to new thinking.

Ultimately the challenge is for the parties to find 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 NSMC 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.