Direct rule can be avoided in North, says Simon Coveney

Minister for Foreign Affairs insists DUP still wants devolved government

Simon Coveney: “There are strong views on issues like how you legislate for the Irish language.” File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Simon Coveney: “There are strong views on issues like how you legislate for the Irish language.” File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Government believes direct rule from Westminister can be avoided as the DUP still want devolved government in Northern Ireland, according to Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs. Simon Coveney.

Mr Coveney said the Irish and British governments wanted to see the Stormont Assembly up and running. He said it may take a short while before there can be any formal engagement between the Government and the DUP.

“Without devolved institutions and a functioning executive, really the heart gets ripped out of the Good Friday Agreement,” said Mr Coveney, adding that neither the British nor the Irish Government are planning for direct rule.

“I also think that, given the relationship between the DUP and the British Government today in terms of the confidence and supply agreement, I think that would make a form of direct rule very difficult to put in place without creating a real problem for nationalism in Northern Ireland.”

Mr Coveney confirmed that he and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar would meet Sinn Féin on Monday to discuss how the talks can be revived. He said that he hoped to speak with the DUP early this week. “I do believe that the DUP want to find a way of returning to devolved Government in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“There are strong views on issues like how you legislate for the Irish language just as there are in other areas such as legacy issues, parades etc.

“We have worked through all these difficult issues over eight months and we have found middle ground that both parties . . . felt that they could support in an effort to find accommodation for the other.”

He said the break down in talks last week did not mean that the parties were not close to each other in compromise areas. “We need to get back there and I believe we can.”