The Irish and British Governments must prioritise the resumption of talks with the political parties in Northern Ireland in relation to the urgent need to have the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive restored.
It is not acceptable that the Institutions established under The Good Friday Agreement are not functioning at present and working in the best interests of all the people.
I have consistently raised these important issues through Parliamentary Question in Dáil Éireann and in discussions at the Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence Committee and at the Committee of the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.
Below is a reply by An Tánaiste to my most recent Parliamentary Question in Dáil Éireann –
For Written Answer on : 18/04/2019
Question Number(s): 59 Question Reference(s): 18378/19
Department: Foreign Affairs and Trade
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the proposals there are to resume talks with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the political parties in Northern Ireland in relation to the need to have the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive restored; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
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. 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.
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.
Following the most recent roundtable consultations by the two Governments with the parties on 15 February, I do not underestimate the way to go in achieving a resolution. However, I continue to believe that this can be achieved and there is an increasingly urgent need for talks to begin.
Unfortunately, the difficulties that have arisen in relation to the UK exit from the European Union and getting the Withdrawal Agreement ratified by the UK, have predominated in recent weeks. However, the Government has always strongly argued that the challenges raised by the UK exit must not stand in the way of getting all the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement up and working again. Indeed, the challenges raised by the UK exit from the European Union for the island of Ireland are further profound and compelling reasons for the devolved power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland and the North South Ministerial Council to be operating on behalf of citizens, and in accordance with their respective mandates under the Good Friday Agreement.
Both Governments remain determined to find a way beyond the current impasse to get the institutions of the Agreement operating again. The legislation that was brought forward by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, which temporarily suspends the requirement to call an Assembly election, underlines the urgent requirement for all with responsibilities to do everything in their power to get them operating again.
I will continue to work with the Secretary of State and remain in regular contact with the leaders of each of the political parties, to get the necessary political process underway to secure an agreement for a functioning Executive and Assembly and North South Ministerial Council.