Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Questions (104, 113, 117)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

104. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which efforts continue to be made to restore the power-sharing Assembly in Northern Ireland; the extent to which the UK Government is positively involved; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53807/19]

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Bernard Durkan

Question:

113. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he continues to have dialogue with the parties in Northern Ireland with a view to the restoration of power sharing; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53816/19]

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Brendan Smith

Question:

117. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade when talks will resume with the UK Government and the political parties in Northern Ireland regarding the need to have the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53833/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 104, 113 and 117 together.

It is clear that this is the moment to finally secure an agreement that will get the Executive, Assembly and the North South Ministerial Council restored to operation again.

The Taoiseach and Prime Minister Johnson spoke on Friday, and they agreed that achieving this is the top priority for both Governments.

If the Executive is not in place by 13 January next, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith MP, has stated that there will be an Assembly election. Nobody sees this as a desirable outcome, but if an agreement cannot be found by then, the people deserve to have their say.

I met with the Secretary of State in Belfast on Monday to discuss how to quickly and successfully conclude the talks process and get all of the institutions of the Agreement up and running again.

We believe that an agreement can be done in a matter of days - if the parties are ready to come together and do it.

The talks’ process initiated by the two Governments last May saw real engagement by all the parties and good progress was made, including on progressing the implementation of outstanding commitments from previous Agreements.

We do not believe there is any appetite among the people of Northern Ireland, or the parties, for that process to be extended now. What is needed is direct leader-to-leader discussions, political will and political courage.

All the parties have shown in the past that they are capable of showing that leadership, in the interests of all of the people of Northern Ireland.

The indications and statements from the party leaders in Northern Ireland last week following the general election results, that they recognise that people in Northern Ireland want to see them operating power-sharing institutions, and that they need to reach an agreement to get back to doing that, were very welcome and important.

The Secretary of State and I have met with the parties separately already earlier this week, and we will bring them together again this week to seek to confirm that there is a shared determination to find agreement, and in days not weeks.

The two Governments will continue to do everything we can to support the parties in this work, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement.