I propose to take Questions Nos. 3 to 7, inclusive, together.
As the House is aware, last Friday, the British Prime Minister, Mrs. Theresa May, announced her intention to step down as leader of the Conservative Party on 7 June, although she will remain as Prime Minister until a new Prime Minister is appointed. As I said in my press statement, I got to know Theresa May quite well over the past two years and I wish her the very best for the future, as I did personally in Brussels yesterday. The Prime Minister, Mrs. May, and I are committed to maintaining close contact while she continues to be Prime Minister and there will be ongoing engagement between our respective officials. We will meet again next month in Brussels. I look forward to working closely with her successor, whoever it may be.
I saw the Prime Minister, Mrs. May, most recently at the European Council meeting dinner in Brussels last night. We also met, along with other world leaders, at the Christchurch Call to Action meeting in Paris on 15 May. While we did not have a substantive meeting on these occasions, we had the opportunity to engage and recalled our prior meeting on 24 April when we both attended the funeral of Ms Lyra McKee in St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast. In coming together with other political and civic leaders, we paid tribute to Lyra McKee and gave expression to the clear will and determination of all the people of these islands to reject violence and to support peace and a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland. We also heard the unmistakable message to all political leaders that people throughout Northern Ireland want to see a new momentum for political progress. At that time, the Prime Minister, Mrs. May, and I agreed to initiate a new round of political talks, involving the main political parties in Northern Ireland, together with the UK and Irish Governments, and we issued a joint statement to this effect on 26 April. The aim of these talks is to re-establish to full operation the democratic institutions of the Good Friday Agreement that are not currently working, namely, the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly and the North-South Ministerial Council. The other institutions, namely, the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, BIIGC, and the British-Irish Council remain in operation.
The talks process started on 7 May in Stormont, led by the Tánaiste, Deputy Coveney, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mrs. Karen Bradley. As Taoiseach and Prime Minister, we agreed to review progress in the near future. The talks are now in their fourth week and I welcome the constructive engagement by all parties. The Prime Minister and I also agreed in April that a meeting of the BIIGC would take place in London on 8 May. At this meeting, the BIIGC considered east-west relations, security co-operation and political stability in Northern Ireland. The opportunity was used to sign a memorandum of understanding to underpin the common travel area.