The Irish and British Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, have been working tirelessly since the Northern Ireland Assembly elections of March 2017 to support and facilitate the political parties in their efforts to form a new power-sharing Executive.
However, as yet, it has not proved possible to reach an agreement on the formation of an Executive, despite intensive engagement. The absence of the Executive also means that that North South Ministerial Council cannot meet. I am currently engaging with Secretary of State Bradley on how both Governments can most effectively secure the full operation of all of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement in the period ahead.
I met with Secretary of State Bradley in Dublin on 17 September, in Belfast on 8 October, and most recently in Dublin on 2 November at the British Irish Inter-Governmental Conference. I spoke further with the Secretary of State by telephone on Monday 12 November.
In my discussions with Secretary of State Bradley, I have underlined the Government’s deep concern at the continuing impasse with the devolved institutions, which she shares.
I have also set out the Government’s view that the legislation that was brought forward by the Secretary of State which temporarily suspends the requirement to call an Assembly election underlines the seriousness of the absence of the devolved institutions in Northern Ireland, and the urgent requirement for all with responsibilities to do everything in their power to get them operating again.
Secretary of State Bradley has confirmed that this legislation is temporary and time-bound and that it operates to provide the necessary scope to get the institutions back in place.
Secretary of State Bradley and I have in this context reaffirmed the strong determination of both Governments to get the devolved institutions up and running again. We are agreed that a new political process is required to secure the necessary agreement between the parties that will see the Assembly and Executive operating again on behalf of the people of Northern Ireland.
Both Governments are continuing to engage with all of the political parties to seek a way forward. All parties have re-affirmed their commitment to operating the devolved institutions and have provided views on their key concerns and issues.
I do not underestimate the way to go in achieving a way forward, but I continue to believe that a resolution is possible.
The calls from across all sections of the community in Northern Ireland for the devolved institutions to operate have to be heeded.
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.