Martin says North’s politicians must get Stormont institutions up and running

Fianna Fáil leader has ‘no difficulty’ laying out what a potential united Ireland would look like

Micheál Martin: “The parties in the North, particularly Sinn Féin and the DUP, have not utilised the Good Friday agreement to the full”

Micheál Martin: “The parties in the North, particularly Sinn Féin and the DUP, have not utilised the Good Friday agreement to the full”

 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin says he has “no difficulty” in laying out what a potential united Ireland would look like, but says politicians in Northern Ireland must get the Stormont institutions back up and running.

Mr Martin will give a speech to the MacGill Summer School in Glenties, Co Donegal, this week on the topic of “how to achieve a new and agreed Ireland and what form might it take”.

In March 2017, Mr Martin said he intended to publish a white paper on a united Ireland, but the party “fell back” on the issue “because of developments”, the Cork South Central TD now says.

He was speaking at the an end of a political term briefing for reporters, and when asked if more thought should be given to how a united Ireland might look, Mr Martin said: “I have no difficulty with that except this: politicians on the island should get on with it. The Irish people voted in a referendum on the island of Ireland for the Good Friday agreement. I don’t like the casual way the Good Friday agreement and its institutions have been cast aside. It was hard fought for, hard negotiated, sacrifices were made on all fronts, concessions were made on all fronts.”

The Stormont institutions collapsed in January 2017 amid controversy over the Renewable Heath Initiative scheme. The latest round of talks to restore the institutions are ongoing.

Mr Martin accused Sinn Féin of trying to hold a Border poll in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, and said some people would rather talk “about the next 10 years again, and the next 15 years” instead of doing “the hard word of being a parliamentarian”.

“People know this is difficult stuff, and you must show form in terms of how you work these particular agreements.

“I don’t agree with what was a Sinn Féin position originally, they are pulling back from it. Sinn Féin were saying ‘the minute we have Brexit, let’s throw in a Border poll, let’s inflame the situation.’

Scandal

“The parties in the North, particularly Sinn Féin and the DUP, have not utilised the Good Friday agreement to the full. It is a scandal that the assembly is not up and running, and the executive is not up and running and in the context of Brexit, which is the greatest threat to Northern Ireland in terms of society and economy there for a long, long time.”

He said a “lot of work has been done” on the Fianna Fáil white paper on Irish unity, and added: “We have articulated a fair degree in relation to aspects [of it].”

The Fianna Fáil proposal from two years ago was to publish a 12-point plan to strengthen economic, political and educational links between the Republic and Northern Ireland, which could help prepare the way for unification of the island.

The details included maintaining the Stormont assembly and possibly the executive after a future reunification referendum, as well as a deal between the British and Irish governments that would see London continue to pay the block grant to Northern Ireland on a declining basis over a number of years.