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Northern Ireland Issues

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 2 December 2014

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Ceisteanna (443)

Brendan Smith


443. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the outcome to date of the all party talks in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46366/14]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Foreign)

Since 16 October I have been in Belfast each week for political talks on a range of issues with a view to advancing reconciliation and the economic recovery agenda in Northern Ireland. Minister of State Seán Sherlock, T.D. has accompanied me most weeks. During that period work has been done across the four streams of discussions of the talks: (1) financial and budgetary issues, including welfare reform; (2) parades, flags and identity, and the past, as addressed in the Haass proposals and discussed in the all-party talks over the past year; (3) the functioning of the NI Assembly and Executive and the delivery of the Programme for Government; and (4) the implementation of key outstanding elements of the Good Friday and St. Andrews Agreements.

Review meetings to gauge progress took place on 5 November and again on 26 November. In recent weeks especially, there has been an increase in the momentum and intensity of the talks. There remains much work to be done, and the Irish Government is fully committed to playing its role in that regard.

I reported to the Taoiseach on 28 November, outlining the progress made to date and setting forth my views of the prospects for the coming weeks. There is a broad consensus that the window for an agreement is this side of Christmas. It will require absolute resolve to deliver on this.

This week, I will return to Belfast for further talks. Former Senator Gary Hart, Secretary of State Kerry’s Personal Representative, will also be in Belfast this week to meet the parties. I look forward to further engagement with Senator Hart, whose experience, energy and advice will I am sure make a significant contribution to our collective efforts.