North’s parties can work together to resolve political impasse – Taoiseach

Vital that both the Stormont Assembly and Executive are maintained, Martin says

Micheál Martin: ‘I do think the capacity is there within the DUP and within political parties in the North to pull this back.’ File photograph: The Irish Times

Micheál Martin: ‘I do think the capacity is there within the DUP and within political parties in the North to pull this back.’ File photograph: The Irish Times

 

Political parties in Northern Ireland have worked together during the Covid-19 pandemic and there is no reason why they cannot do so again to resolve the current political impasse, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.

Mr Martin said the Irish Government wanted both the Stormont Assembly and Executive to continue and he believed Northern Ireland parties had the political acumen to resolve matters.

“We are always concerned in terms of how things can develop, particularly in a vacuum in terms of politics but, at the same time, I do think the capacity is there within the DUP and within political parties in the North to pull this back.

“This has been shown throughout Covid – there were many early challenges during the Covid period between the parties in respect of Covid policy in the North but they got through it in a very competent and effective manner.”

Speaking in Carrigaline in Co Cork following a week which has seen the DUP plunged into turmoil with the resignation of party leader, Edwin Poots, after just 21 days in office, Mr Martin struck a cautious note on Northern Ireland.

He said he believed that there was “an emerging middle ground in Northern Ireland that wants the institutions to work in Northern Ireland” and the Irish Government would do all in its power to support such an aim.

He said that in regard it was vital that both the Stormont Assembly and Executive are maintained so as to assist the economy, health system and education system in Northern Ireland recover from the impact of Covid 19.

Asked specifically about the potential for turmoil over the Northern Ireland protocol in the run up to July 12th, Mr Martin again reiterated that the matter could be resolved by the UK and the European Union working together.

“We can resolve all of the issues through the political process both in terms of the Good Friday Agreement, the British and Irish governments stand together in terms as guarantors of the institutions and of the agreement itself.

“We are willing to work with all parties on a constructive basis to build relationships and then in parallel, as members of the European Union, to work with the EU and the UK to resolve issues that have arisen in respect of the protocol.”

Mr Martin again identified chief negotiators, European Commission vice-president for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, Maroš Šefcovic, and British cabinet minister, David Frost of Task Force Europe as having key roles.

“There is a mechanism within the withdrawal agreement, namely the Joint Committee, to resolve those issues and Maroš Šefcovic and David Frost have the capacity, in my view, to resolve those issues through that mechanism.”