Ministers asked to ramp up engagement with counterparts in new British government

Taoiseach Simon Harris to meet UK prime minister Keir Starmer at Chequers next week in bid to improve relations

UK PM Keir Starmer at the Nato Summit in Washington. Starmer has said there is an opportunity to 'reset' relations between the UK and Ireland. Photograph: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Ministers have been asked to ramp up their engagements with their counterparts in the new British government, Taoiseach Simon Harris has told the last meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party before the Dáil summer recess.

It comes as the Government hopes to improve relations with London now that a new Labour government is in power.

Both Mr Harris and the new prime minister Keir Starmer have said there is an opportunity to “reset” relations between the UK and Ireland.

There have been tensions in recent years amid the long-running Brexit saga as well as the former Conservative government’s controversial Legacy Act related to the Troubles in Northern Ireland.


It was opposed by many victims groups in Northern Ireland and all the main Stormont parties and Labour has pledged to “repeal and replace” the Act.

Mr Harris is due to meet Mr Starmer next week and the Taoiseach told his TDs and Senators that the talks and a working dinner will take place at Chequers, the prime minister’s country estate, rather than Downing Street.

He said this would allow for a longer engagement.

Keir Starmer: Britain’s new PM shaped by a distant father and deep ‘love’ for IrelandOpens in new window ]

Mr Harris said Irish Ministers have been asked to increase their contacts with their British counterparts.

The Fine Gael leader also told his party that Budget 2025 will “will put more money in people’s pockets and make work pay”.

He said that following the Summer Economic Statement (SES) “there is no reason we can’t deliver a good budget this year with tax and welfare packages”.

The SES, which was published on Tuesday, indicated that upcoming budget will be framed around a massive tax and spending package of €8.3 billion.

This includes additional public spending of €6.9 billion and taxation measures amounting to €1.4 billion.

On other topics, Mr Harris said he will have a meeting on school transport with relevant Ministers aimed at how to best manage school transport issues that arise every year.

He confirmed that former Fine Gael TD Olwyn Enright has been appointed as the party’s director of organisation.

Her role will include election planning, strategy, messaging and campaign planning.

Newly appointed Senator Nikki Bradley was welcomed to the parliamentary party and contributors to the meeting praised former tánaiste and minister Simon Coveney, who confirmed on Wednesday that he will not be contesting the next general election.

There were tributes and a moment’s silence for former TD John O’Mahony who died at the weekend.

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times