Ministers from the Irish and UK governments met in London on Friday and agreed to do “everything possible” to re-establish the Northern Ireland Executive by the end of this month.
The commitment was made during a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) which was attended by Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris and Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker.
According to a joint communique issued after the meeting, the “UK and Irish governments reaffirmed their commitment to doing everything possible to facilitate the re-establishment of the Executive by October 28th, and the full functioning of all of the political institutions established by the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement including the North/South Ministerial Council.
“They agreed on the importance of respecting the agreement in totality. They agreed this is what people in Northern Ireland expect and deserve.
“The conference noted the ongoing discussions to address issues around the Northern Ireland protocol and to find an agreed way forward. The conference noted that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland would come under a legal duty to call further elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly if the Executive is not restored by October 28th.”
Ministers also discussed the current security situation in both jurisdictions.
“Both the UK government and the Irish Government noted the importance of the ongoing high level of co-operation in tackling terrorism, paramilitarism and associated criminality.
“The conference discussed the approach to the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past and the value of further engagement on this crucial issue, in particular the Irish Government’s concerns with the UK government’s proposed legislation and how those concerns might be addressed. The UK and Irish governments also discussed issues of concern in respect to a number of individual legacy cases.”
It was also agreed that there would be a collective marking of the 25th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement next year.
The BIIGC was established under the agreement “to promote bilateral co-operation at all levels on all matters of mutual interest within the competence of the UK and Irish governments”. It will meet again in January 2023.