Republic failing to hold Britain to account on North, Adams claims

Taoiseach insists Government will work as co-guarantors of Belfast Agreement

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams: he claimed the British government had failed to honour commitments because the Government did not hold it to account. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams: he claimed the British government had failed to honour commitments because the Government did not hold it to account. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has insisted the Government will work with its British counterparts to ensure the conditions of the Belfast Agreement and other deals are fulfilled.

Mr Kenny was responding to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, who claimed the British government had failed to honour commitments because the Irish Government had failed to hold it to account. The two governments are co-guarantors of the agreement.

Mr Adams said the British government had refused to introduce a Bill of rights, failed to honour a commitment to deal with legacy issues and failed to take action on the Irish Language Act.

“And they won’t honour these commitments unless you hold them to account,” he told Mr Kenny during Leaders’ Questions.

‘Enthusiastic dialogue’

He asked: “Taoiseach, will you commit to a meaningful ongoing, consistent strategic engagement with the North and with London? And I appeal to you publicly to do that in the time ahead and not just in times of crisis.”

Mr Kenny said the Government would show a “very active, energetic and enthusiastic dialogue” with the North’s next administration in fulfilling all conditions of the Belfast and other agreements.

He also said he would take up these issues with British prime minister Theresa May when she visited Ireland shortly.

“Our political priority and imprimatur is to ensure the political institutions in the North will be enabled to work. We don’t want to see a return to the past.”

Mr Adams said it was the Taoiseach’s responsibility to ensure that agreements were upheld and implemented.

“In recent years the Government has consigned itself to the role of spectators and occasional neutral commentators and that is a fundamental mistake,” he said, adding that this allowed the British government to not honour its commitments.

Good propositions

Mr Adams said to Mr Kenny: “We’re looking for you to implement agreements that are already there.”

He claimed that “time and again in the past five, six years, when I appealed to you and your Government to play a consistent strategic leadership role in facing up to the British government as an equal, you failed to do this.

“Republicans and nationalists in the North more often than not look to Dublin and in the past 10 years or so, in the absence of leadership, that connectivity, that sense of togetherness, has been eroded.”

Mr Kenny insisted that the Government was committed, as a priority, to the North and that Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan continued to engage in the North and with Northern Secretary James Brokenshire and had spoken to him on Monday night.

The Taoiseach described the last North-South Ministerial Conference as successful with good propositions put forward.

Mr Kenny said the Government intended to work closely with the next Northern assembly and executive in respect of the fulfilment of all the conditions of the Belfast Agreement and all subsequent agreements.