Flanagan stands over his comments on North

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan last night refuted Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams' claim that electoral politics in the Republic motivated his approach to Northern Ireland.

Mr Adams said the Irish Government needed to "lift its game" in relation to the Northern Ireland peace process, at the second and final day of Sinn Féin's think-in in Termonfeckin, Co Louth.

He also said he objected to recent remarks by Mr Flanagan about the Northern Executive when the Minister said Sinn Féin and the DUP were not doing enough to deliver progress.

“I think [they] were more influenced by the electoral politics of this State than by his obligation as a foreign minister to uphold the Irish Government’s co-equal role as guarantor of the Good Friday and other agreements,” Mr Adams said.

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He called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to be a “champion” for the Belfast Agreement and the peace process.

Mr Flanagan last night said he stood over his comments. He said it was a priority to stay in regular contact with party leaders in Northern Ireland.

“I believe it’s important that I’m straightforward and frank in how I deal with the partners in the Executive,” he said.

“On the basis of the evidence of my engagement with civic society over the past six weeks, I don’t believe that the parties are doing enough to deliver real progress.

“It’s my responsibility to say so and I say so in a very direct manner.”

Mr Flanagan said mature relationships were able to “withstand hard truths” and he noted that Mr Adams had responded “with equal candour”.

He said he had spoken to the North’s First Minister Martin McGuinness and intended to meet him next week.

Mr McGuinness confirmed he had spoken to Mr Flanagan. He said he had recorded his “surprise” at the remarks but was not interested in getting involved in a “spat” with the Minister.

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan

Mary Minihan is Acting Features Editor of The Irish Times