Ireland must take keener interest in UK political developments, says Taoiseach
State’s exclusion from Northern Ireland economic pact a ‘disgrace’ says Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin
Micheál Martin: “Over the past three years there has been a growing and increasingly dangerous complacency about the situation in Northern Ireland”. Photograph: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland
There is more to the North- South “jigsaw” than resolving past differences and developing economic co-operation, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
The peace process and North-South relations are very important, but are “not the only pieces of the jigsaw”.
Opening a day-long Dáil debate on the North, Mr Kenny said “we need to take a keener interest in political developments in Britain”, particularly the EU referendum that may be held there.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said the two governments attached high importance to the North’s political parties making process on flags, parades and the past.
They needed to do so to allow them to turn their attention to the other serious, pressing issues of unemployment, education and economic recovery.
“The Irish Government has no closer political relationship than with the Northern Ireland Executive. There is a shared interest to move North-South co-operation in a practical direction in support of recovery.”
But Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin reiterated previous warnings that “over the past three years there has been a growing and increasingly dangerous complacency about the situation in Northern Ireland”.
He said “the entire momentum of peace, reconciliation and development is being lost” and the exclusion of the State “from the new economic pact for Northern Ireland remains a disgrace, as does the Taoiseach’s disinterest in it”.
Developed between Sinn Féin, the DUP and Whitehall, the pact was welcome and included many important commitments, “but it also whitewashes . . . any North-South dimension whatsoever”.
No more casualties
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams insisted the focus of political leaders in the Dáil “must be to ensure there are no more casualties of political conflict on this island, no more victims and no more deaths.