74. Deputy Micheál Martin asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if his departmental officials have met with him recently to report on the progress on the talks to reconvene the Northern Ireland Assembly. (Question 18809/18 asked on 01 May 2018)
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade (Deputy Simon Coveney): I propose to take Questions Nos. 72 and 74 together.
Over the course of many months, the Irish and British Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, have worked tirelessly to support and facilitate the parties in their efforts to form a Northern Ireland Executive.
The devolved, power-sharing institutions are at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement and are the best means for achieving accountable, representative decision-making for all the people of Northern Ireland.
Unfortunately, to date, it has not proved possible to reach an agreement on the formation of an Executive, despite intensive engagement. In light of this, the Government has been working with the British Government to consider means by which we can support the political process, in accordance with the Agreement, in the period ahead.
The Taoiseach has spoken with Prime Minister May and emphasised the Government’s full commitment to the Good Friday Agreement, and our continuing determination to secure the effective operation of all of its institutions.
I am in very regular contact with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, as we seek a way beyond the current impasse. Most recently, I have met with Secretary of State Bradley on 10 April, on 16 April and we spoke further by phone on 27 April.
Over the last two weeks, the Secretary of State and I have each been conducting a round of contacts with the Northern Ireland political parties, to hear their views on how at this stage the two Governments can support the political process, in accordance with the Agreement.
All parties have re-affirmed their commitment to operating the devolved institutions and provided views on their key concerns and issues to be addressed in seeking a way forward.
In light of these consultations, the Secretary of State and I will consider how best the two Governments, as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, can chart a way forward that will give the best prospects for getting the devolved institutions operating again without delay.
I will continue to engage intensively, working with Secretary of State Bradley and the leaders of all of the political parties, until that is achieved.
My officials are engaging intensively in support of these objectives and are reporting to me on a daily basis.
The Good Friday Agreement is the indispensable framework for providing stable, inclusive, power-sharing government for all the people of Northern Ireland and for sustaining our interlocking relationships – within Northern Ireland, on the island of Ireland and between the UK and Ireland.
As co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement, both Governments have an obligation to uphold and protect the letter and spirit of that Agreement and we are continuing to work to that end.