Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Questions (47)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

47. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to meet the new Prime Minister of the UK; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53384/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Taoiseach and I, and our colleagues in Government, look forward to meeting with the new UK Government in the coming weeks. The Taoiseach spoke with Prime Minister Johnson on Friday last and they will meet in person as soon as is possible. For my part, I look forward to meeting with my counterpart, the UK Foreign Secretary, early in 2020, to discuss mutual interests and shared global challenges.

I have been working very closely with one UK colleague - the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith - in the last number of days. We are resolute in our determination to see the restoration of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement but time is very short, and so we are working hard, with the political parties in Northern Ireland, to find agreement. This is a matter of utmost urgency, and one on which Irish and British partnership is, and will continue to be, vital. The overall relationship with the newly elected UK Government is a top priority for both myself and the Taoiseach. Given our joint stewardship of the peace process, our people-to-people relations, and our economic and trading relationship, it's clear that we will need to establish and maintain close, collaborative relationships with our UK counterparts now and for the coming years. We need to ensure that the “habit of cooperation” that has developed through so many years working side by side as members of the European Union is maintained following the UK's departure.

Regular engagement, facilitated by existing structures like the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and the British-Irish Council, will be key in this regard. We will also discuss with the UK as soon as is possible whether new structures for cooperation between Dublin and London will also be required.

I and my colleagues will also continue to engage closely with the devolved administrations in both Cardiff and Edinburgh in order to strengthen relationships between and within these islands at every level, in what will be a new and challenging context.