Lenihan, Dodds to meet on economic issues


The Finance Minister Brian Lenihan and his Northern Ireland counterpart Nigel Dodds are to meet to see if a joint approach between both governments will help address some of the common major economic challenges facing both jurisdictions.

The Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson met Taoiseach Brian Cowen in Dublin for the first time since his election and said that the meeting had been dominated by the economy and the impasse between the DUP and Sinn Féin that has deadlocked the Northern Ireland Executive this year.

“I think there are problems facing us all and we reached a conclusion that officials should get together and that the two Finance Ministers should meet to talk about some of the issues and to see if there is any way, in common, we might address them,” said Mr Robinson.

Mr Cowen met delegations from the DUP and Sinn Fein in succession yesterday afternoon. Mr Robinson and Mr Dodds arrived at 2pm for a meeting that lasted for over an hour. Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and his Sinn Féin colleague Gerry Kelly arrived shortly after 4pm to meet the Taoiseach.

A Government spokesman said that Taoiseach and the Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheál Martin had very useful meetings with both delegations on a wide range of issues relating to the present situation in the North, the
wider issue of North-South cooperation and the global economic situation.

“The Taoiseach expressed concerns about the ongoing difficulties in the North and encouraged both parties to work together to resolve these difference and reiterated the support of the Government for the two parties
and their efforts,” said the spokesman.

Mr McGuinness, speaking as he entered Government Buildings, focused his remarks on the dispute between Sinn Fein and its partners in the Executive over the devolution of policing and justice. He also suggested that the two governments needed to take a greater role to resolve the situation.

“We are here against a backdrop of considerable difficulties… The best way to resolve them is through a cohesive approach with the two Government involved and the parties involved and all of us recognising that the St Andrews Agreement, the Good Friday Agreement, imposes obligations that have to be delivered on.

“We have tried throughout the course of the springtime and the summer to resolve those difficulties. Unfortunately, to date it has not worked.

“I hope that over the coming period we will see an intensive effort to crunch these issue and see the executive move on,” he said.

For his part, Mr Robinson said he updated Mr Cowen about the issues relating to the impasse.

“It’s very clear that he wants to give any help that he can. I think he accepts it best if the two parties work through these issues themselves,” he said.

“There is a determination on my part and that of my colleagues to try to resolve outstanding issues and we will do everything that we can to make the Assembly and the Executive work.”

He continued: “He and I would both be concerned. We want the executive to be meeting. There is a lot of business for it to do. The Community, be it the Nationalist and the Unionist community, want the Executive to work particularly at a time when we have an economic crisis, when we should be pulling together."