Thursday, 4 July 2019

Questions (71)

Brendan Smith


71. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the position in relation to the talks between the Irish and British Governments and the Northern Ireland political parties in relation to the need to have the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29008/19]

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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.  

I have been working intensively with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in recent weeks in the talks at Stormont to support the leaders of the political parties in finding an agreement that will get all of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement up and running again.  

We have today seen the British Government introduce an amendment to UK legislation to extend the period for calling an Assembly election. This step underlines the seriousness of the absence of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, and the urgent requirement for an agreement between the political parties on operating the institutions again.  

I want to acknowledge that all five political parties have engaged constructively in this process with that objective over the last number of weeks. Progress has been made across a range of important issues. However, some key outstanding issues remain and finding final agreement on these issues will require genuine and courageous dialogue between the party leaders.  

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.  

The two largest parties have a particular responsibility to reach an accommodation to secure the formation of a new power-sharing Executive.  

The two Governments have called on the parties to continue to participate in this dialogue with each other towards a sustainable accommodation for all.  

The Governments and the leads of the Working Groups will also continue to engage with all the parties in discussions on the outstanding issues.  

The Governments will have to make an assessment before lone on whether it is possible to move quickly in this period to final agreement.

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.