I visited Belfast this week in my capacity as Chairperson of the Fianna Fáil Party’s Committee on Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement.
I was joined on the trip by Deputy Cathal Crowe, Senator Niall Blaney, Senator Erin McGreehan and Councillor Briege MacOscar.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and we were keen to hear at first hand from political parties and civic society groups how the Agreement is viewed at present and the extent of the current challenges. Legacy issues and the concerns of victims and their families must be addressed.
There is no doubt that the present situation is one of considerable concern. Brexit and its consequences, especially the Protocol, are sources of significant pressure and tension.
However, despite these challenges there is an ongoing desire for engagement and discussion. Everyone wants to see the Assembly restored and a fully functioning Executive put in place. It is critical that the issues surrounding the Protocol are resolved as soon as possible and efforts to do so must not let up.
All the delegations we met expressed a strong desire to work closely with An Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin TD. The ongoing positive work and engagement by Bertie Ahern was strongly commended.
Ongoing and regular engagement, both formal and informal, will be essential in coming weeks and months. While no-one denies that things are vastly much better than they were before the Good Friday Agreement, there is much still to be done to realise the potential of the Agreement. As Chair of the Fianna Fáil committee on Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement, I look forward, along with Party colleagues, to working constructively and positively to help achieve the maximum potential of this historic Agreement.