Flanagan tells Foster 1916 events will be inclusive
Minister discusses Fresh Start agreement with Northern Secretary and party leaders
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan held his first meeting yesterday with Arlene Foster since she was elected Northern Ireland First Minister and DUP leader. Photograph: Alan Betson
The Government is committed to making the Easter 1916 commemorations inclusive for all of the people on the island of Ireland, Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has told Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster.
Mr Flanagan, who was in Belfast yesterday to review progress in implementing last November’s Fresh Start agreement, held his first meeting with Ms Foster since she was elected First Minister and DUP leader. Ms Foster triggered nationalist annoyance when she said she would not attend any Easter Rising centenary events because she believed the rebellion was anti-democratic and would give “succour to violent republicanism”.
Mr Flanagan congratulated Ms Foster on her appointment and expressed the Government’s “wish to continue working closely with her and with the Deputy First Minister in the interests of Northern Ireland, including through the implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start agreements and the advancement of North-South co-operation”.
He said: “I also briefed her on the Government’s plans for this year of commemorations that include both the Easter Rising and the Somme, and our efforts to make them an inclusive experience for all people on the island of Ireland.”
Mr Flanagan said he also held a “very good first review meeting” with Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers and the leaders of the North’s main parties on the Fresh Start agreement.
Emphasising the need to maintain political momentum, he said that work was already advanced on tackling cross-Border crime and paramilitarism and on creating a new international body modelled on the old Independent Monitoring Commission to adjudicate on the status of the IRA and other paramilitaries.
He said he reported on the Government’s commitment to give £75 million to help upgrade the A5 from Derry to Strabane. Mr Flanagan also held a meeting with Ms Villiers to discuss the failure to agree mechanisms and bodies to deal with the past and to assist victims and survivors of the Troubles.