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Foreign Affairs | Restoration of the Northern Assembly and the prevention of obstacles to trade

To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he continues to engage with the authorities in Northern Ireland and the UK in the context of the restoration of the Northern Assembly and the prevention of obstacles to trade, North and South; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The continued absence of an Executive and the failure of the Northern Ireland Assembly to nominate a Speaker is of upmost concern to the Government. The people of Northern Ireland are entitled to be represented by the people who they elected in May 2022. The continued refusal of one party to participate in the nomination of a Speaker and an Executive is a denial of the mandates that was given to the parties by the electorate.  It also impedes the provision of services that much needed by the people of Northern Ireland.

In my contacts with the Northern Irish political parties and with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Chris Heaton-Harris, I have raised the importance that the Government attaches to a functioning Assembly and Executive. 

I have spoken with and met with the Secretary of State on a number of occasions in recent weeks, by telephone on 20 December 2022, in person on 12 January 2023 and at the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference 19 January. At each occasion, we discussed the importance that both governments attach to the full functioning of the institutions provided for under the Good Friday Agreement. We will remain in close and regular contact in the period ahead.

I am in regular contact with the Northern Irish political parties with a view to working towards the restoration of the Assembly and of the Executive. I spoke with most party leaders by telephone on 9 January 2023. In all of my calls with the party leaders, I reiterated the importance that this Government places on the formation of a functioning Executive and election of a Speaker. I plan to meet with party leaders in Belfast later this week. 

It is also clear that strong growth in North South trade over the past two decades is one of the key achievements of the peace process. We now have a closely integrated all-island economy, which both supports and is supported by the peace process. The Government will continue to work to create an enabling environment for the continued growth of North South trade, to further unlock the potential of the all-island economy.

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