The continuing absence of vital institutions of the Good Friday Agreement is a source of deep concern for the Government, as it is for the British Government.
Yesterday, 7 May, I and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland convened the inclusive multi-party talks in Belfast, which the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach announced on 26 April, involving all five main parties and the two Governments.
The objective is to seek to quickly re-establish to full operation the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement - the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive and the North-South Ministerial Council.
A meeting of the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference is taking place in London today, 8 May. I and the Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr. Charles Flanagan TD, are participating for the Government. The Conference agenda includes discussion of political stability in Northern Ireland, legacy issues, security, and economic cooperation between the two Governments.
The awful killing 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.
Ultimately the challenge is for the parties to find an agreement. This will be difficult, but the two Governments believe that this can, and must, be achieved.
The Prime Minister and the Taoiseach will review progress in these talks by the end of May and consider any necessary further steps.
The devolved institutions of the Agreement are urgently needed so that the Assembly and power-sharing Executive can represent the interests of all of the people of Northern Ireland and address issues of concern. There are pressing decisions and issues across a range of areas, which require a functioning Executive and Assembly. The North South Ministerial Council is also essential to oversee and develop North South cooperation on matters of mutual interest, as provided for under the Good Friday 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.