Active engagement between Ireland and UK has disappeared, claims FF leader

Enda Kenny says regular engagement at highest level between Dublin and London

Evidence of active engagement between Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British prime minister Theresa May on Northern Ireland has all but disappeared, the Fianna Fáil leader has claimed.

Micheál Martin told the Dáil that Dublin and London used to have a very close relationship and consulted actively with each other.

“Over time, personal relations have remained strong but the evidence of London consulting with Dublin has declined,” he added.

Mr Martin said, incredibly, in the nearly five months since the Northern Ireland Executive collapsed, the Taoiseach and prime minister had failed to hold a single consultation with the parties.


“At a critical moment in the Brexit process, Northern Ireland has been without a voice at the table and has been pushed into an ongoing cycle of electioneering,” he added.

“Brexit is far too serious an issue and it demanded a coherent voice from Northern Ireland, which it is not now getting.”

Two months ago, said Mr Martin, the House was told the re-establishment of the institutions was an urgent priority for both leaders but questioned if a brief phone call was “proof of that priority”.

“Can the Taoiseach explain what its intended to ensure that this kind of drift ends quickly after the British general election ?”

Mr Kenny said relations between Ireland the Downing Street had been very good in the past number of years. "I must note, also, that there is regular engagement at the very highest official level between her and Downing Street on all of these issues."

Mr Kenny said he was sorry the Executive had collapsed and that a replacement was not created.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin said he was sure it was a disappointment to the Taoiseach he was likely to leave office with a political vacuum In Northern Ireland on foot of the post-election failure to form an Executive.

Mr Kenny said he hoped the parties would focus on the fact that they would be sitting down again a day or two after the result of the British general election.

“For that to happen, the parties have to want it to happen,’’ he added.

Michael O'Regan

Michael O'Regan

Michael O’Regan is a former parliamentary correspondent of The Irish Times