Prime Minister Meets Representatives from Five Northern Ireland Parties

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has met today with politicians from five different political parties in Northern Ireland. The Prime Minister was also accompanied by Julian Smith, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister met five of Northern Ireland’s main political parties today in Belfast. The overarching purpose of these meetings was to discuss moving forward in the ongoing power sharing talks and getting the Northern Irish democratic institutions back up and running as soon as possible.

The Prime Minister told all of the parties that he was determined to bring this process to a successful conclusion and that he would do everything he could to make it happen.

He said that while there had been constructive progress in recent weeks at Stormont, that there now needed to be serious and intense engagement to get this done and that he had faith that all parties would step up to the challenge.

The discussions also included Brexit, where the Prime Minister made clear that the UK would be leaving the EU on October 31st come what may, and restated his intention to do so with a deal.

He said that in all scenarios, the Government is steadfast in its commitment to the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement and that in no circumstances would there be physical checks or infrastructure on the border.

He also made clear his belief and commitment in the rigorous impartiality set out in the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement, while at the same time reaffirming his determination to strengthen the Union and Northern Ireland’s place within it.

They also discussed what the UK Government could do to support Harland & Wolff and Wrightbus.

Alongside the new Secretary of State Julian Smith, he said he was looking forward to engaging widely and seeing more of this fantastic part of our United Kingdom.”

Karen Bradley Says Progress Being Made in Northern Ireland

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has said that progress is being made in political talks to restore the executive. She also paid tribute to Lyra McKee, the journalist who was murdered in Northern Ireland.

In a statement Bradley said:

“The sickening attack that led to the death of Lyra McKee has deeply shocked everyone across the world.

Lyra was a brilliant, talented journalist. She was a role model to many who always fought to make Northern Ireland a better place.

Since Lyra’s death communities across Northern Ireland and the political spectrum have come together – united in condemnation at this murderous act – and they have delivered a clear message:

The people responsible for this act of terrorism have absolutely nothing to offer Northern Ireland and have no place in society.

Due to the hard work, resilience and commitment of the people of Northern Ireland, along with those we entrust to uphold the rule of law, the security situation is transformed.

But there remain small numbers of dissident republicans who remain intent on killing.

Our challenge is to ensure that we continue to work for peace for the whole community. Northern Ireland today is a dynamic, modern, outward looking place and it is open to everyone regardless of their community background, political aspirations, race, gender or sexuality.

Lyra symbolised the new Northern Ireland and her tragic death cannot be in vain.

All of us must take inspiration from what Lyra achieved in her life and work even harder to make Northern Ireland a brighter, more peaceful and prosperous place for everyone.

As Secretary of State, my absolute determination is to see the restoration of all the political institutions established by the 1998 Agreement.

That Agreement has formed the bedrock of peace and progress here since it was reached just over 21 years ago. It must be upheld and it must be defended from those who would seek to undermine it.

Northern Ireland needs its political leaders to stand together and work with each other in the spirit of unity and togetherness – now more than ever.

That is why, the PM and Taoiseach, in their statement earlier today, called formal political talks to restore the Executive, commencing on the 7 May.

The talks will take place in full accordance with the well-established three stranded approach to which we remain committed. There will also be a meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (BIIGC) on the 8 May.

Both our teams will be working with the parties on an intensive period of preparation to get ready for those talks.

The Tanaiste and I will do everything in our power to make those talks a success, but we need Northern Ireland’s political leaders to do everything they can to ensure we emerge with an agreement, restore the Executive, and build a better future for the people of Northern Ireland.

Over 21 years ago Northern Ireland’s political leaders reached the Belfast Agreement, and showed how coming together for the benefit of the whole community can achieve truly ground-breaking and remarkable things.

These talks offer us a chance to move forward, restore the political institutions and deliver for the people of Northern Ireland.

I am determined to ensure we use this opportunity to succeed in doing just that. We have a narrow window in which genuine progress can be made and we must act now.”

DUP Confirms it Will Vote Against Prime Minister’s Brexit Deal

Sammy Wilson, the Brexit spokesperson for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has confirmed that it will not back the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal. The confirmation, although expected, will make it harder for Theresa May to secure his favoured withdrawal agreement.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Wilson said:

“It’s not just because of the regulations which Northern Ireland would be subject to with the backstop, but also the fact we would have to treat the rest of the United Kingdom as a third country, we would not participate in any trade deals which the United Kingdom may enter into in the future and we would find that there would be a border down the Irish Sea which would impede trade with our biggest trading partner, namely GB”.

Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader of the DUP, said in a statement:

“The Irish Republic’s ‘no deal’ preparations published just before Christmas have laid bare the nonsense propaganda about a hard border. No one wants a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. Indeed, its becoming clearer by the day that no one is ever going to construct such a border. With this clarity emerging in London, Dublin and Brussels, there is evidently no need for the aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement which have been so vigorously opposed by a broad cross section of the House of Commons”.

Sinn Fein President Tells Theresa May to Take a Lead on Talks in Northern Ireland

Mary Lou McDonald, the President of Sinn Fein, has told the Guardian newspaper that Theresa May, the Prime Minister, needs to take a lead on talks in Northern Ireland.

McDonald said:

“The confidence and supply agreement causes a huge, huge problem: it robs even the pretence of impartiality in the minds of many; and I do have a concern, and I shared this with Theresa May, that she might soft-pedal, that she might put things off, in order to protect that arrangement.

The other thing about the confidence and supply arrangement was the commitment to the Tories on Brexit.

It’s not her words, it’s her actions: we’ve had words until we’ve nearly given each other migraines. In the final analysis, to get this sorted out, you can only judge and make a call when the words are silent and when you look to the actions”.

She added that the party would still refuse to take its seven seats in the British House of Commons to try to prevent Brexit, saying:

“We are an abstentionist party, I do not foresee us changing that position”.

Prime Minister Speaks to Irish Taioseach Leo Varadkar about Northern Ireland

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has spoken on the phone to Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taioseach, about the current situation on power sharing in Northern Ireland. The recent talks to allow the Northern Ireland Assembly to operate required agreement between Sinn Fein and the DUP, which wasn’t reached.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister spoke to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on the phone earlier this evening. They spoke about the recent phase of political talks in Northern Ireland and of their disappointment that an agreement had not yet been reached to restore an Executive. Both leaders recognised the progress and serious engagement made by the parties.

The Prime Minister said she believed there was scope for agreement and reiterated the UK Government’s priority was still to get devolution up and running again in Northern Ireland. They agreed to continue to stay in close contact as the parties reflect on the best way forward to re-establish devolved Government in Northern Ireland”.

Prime Ministers Calls Representatives from Sinn Fein and the DUP After Talks Collapse

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has contacted representatives from Sinn Fein and the DUP following the collapse of power sharing talks in Northern Ireland. Despite hopes for an agreement there is limited hope of any substantial progress being made in the near future.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister spoke to the leaders of Sinn Fein and the DUP on the phone earlier this evening about the recent phase of political talks in Northern Ireland. In both phone calls the Prime Minister expressed her disappointment that an agreement had not yet been reached despite recent progress being made by everyone involved.

She reiterated how the government remains absolutely committed to restoring an Executive and that it is still her firm belief that restoring devolved government – so that democratically elected politicians can make locally accountable decisions – is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister was clear that she still believes the basis for an agreement exists and recognised the leadership both parties had shown over past weeks and months. She urged them both to reflect on the recent phase of talks in order to find the best way forward.

On next steps, the Prime Minister was clear that the UK government has a responsibility to consider what needed to be done to protect the interests of Northern Ireland in the ongoing absence of an Executive. She added that the Northern Ireland Secretary would continue to work closely with the parties, and the Irish Government in accordance with the three stranded approach, to support that process”.

Northern Ireland Power Sharing Talks Collapse

Attempts to restore power sharing in Northern Ireland have today collapsed without a deal being obtained. The failure to reach agreement comes after over a year of talks and is thought to have been based around disagreements over the Irish language and same-sex marriage. Northern Ireland will continue to be governed directly from Westminster until a settlement can be found.

Arlene Foster, the leader of the DUP, said:

“For almost four weeks, we have been engaged in intensive negotiations with Sinn Féin. We have attempted to find a stable and sustainable basis for restoring devolution. Those discussions have been unsuccessful. Despite our best efforts, serious and significant gaps remain between ourselves and Sinn Féin, especially on the issue of the Irish language”.

Michelle O’Neill, representing Sinn Fein, blamed the DUP, saying:

“We had reached an accommodation with the leadership of the DUP. The DUP failed to close the deal. They have now collapsed this process”.

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said in a statement:

“Both parties have conducted discussions seriously and in good faith. While substantive progress towards an agreement has been made, it appears that this phase of talks has reached a conclusion. I would urge everyone to reflect on the circumstances which have led to this and their positions, both now and in the future.

The position of the UK Government remains the same: devolved government is in the best interests of everyone in Northern Ireland and is best for the Union. I believe the basis for an accommodation still exists. As the Prime Minister said during her visit on Monday, we are ready to bring forward legislation to enable an Executive to be formed.

We will continue to work with everyone to make sure we do deliver this. We now need to consider practical steps. In the continued absence of an Executive, other challenging decisions will have to be taken by the UK Government. I will update Parliament when the House returns from Recess next week”.

Owen Smith, the Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, said:

“This is desperately disappointing news, especially as there had been widespread hope last week that a deal might be reached. It seems clear, however, that the cause of the breakdown was the DUP’s unwillingness to accept legislation to support the Irish language or marriage equality. Their lack of leadership on these issues, despite their powerful position in Stormont and Westminster, leaves Northern Ireland without an accountable government or a voice in the Brexit negotiations.

Karen Bradley will now have to explain how she hopes to get the DUP back to the table, and if that proves impossible, how she is going to take forward issues such as equal marriage, as well as dealing with tough decisions on health, education and infrastructure that have been left unresolved for over 400 days”.

Karen Bradley Welcomes US Decision on Bombardier

Karen Bradley, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has welcomed a decision by the US Trade Commission which will prevent the US Government from imposing 292% import tariffs on products made by Bombardier. It was feared that hundreds of jobs would have been lost if the decision hadn’t been reversed.

Bradley said in a statement:

“It is excellent news that the International Trade Commission has unanimously found in favour of Bombardier. It is great that the company will continue to play a hugely important role in our economy as we build a Northern Ireland fit for the future.

I know Bombardier workers and their families have been waiting some time for this and I wish them well as we welcome this news together.

The UK Government has been working tirelessly to safeguard Bombardier jobs and argued from the very start this case was wholly unjustified”.

Karen Bradley in First Visit to Northern Ireland as Secretary of State

Karen Bradley, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has visited the province for the first time since her appointment this week. She visited Belfast Metropolitan College in the city to meet both students and staff.

In a statement Bradley said:

“I am absolutely delighted to be in Belfast and to be appointed to this important Cabinet post and I am really looking forward to getting down to work as quickly as possible. I want to work with all sections of the community here to help build a Northern Ireland that is fit for the future and that works for everyone.

During my visit to Belfast Metropolitan College, I have been struck by the wonderful education facilities that are available to students here. Throughout the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland is highly regarded for the excellent levels of education it provides, as well as the high calibre of its students – they can hold their heads high and compete with the best from around the world;

And of course I can’t forget the marvellous tourism that this part of the world is so famous for – the Giant’s Causeway, the Mourne Mountains and of course the No 1 visitor attraction in the world – Titanic Belfast. I know my family are already looking forward to getting to know this beautiful part of the United Kingdom.

Of course I have a very important job to do, and as I said yesterday my immediate challenge and key objective is to ensure that Northern Ireland has a devolved government in place in order to address the issues that affect everyone’s lives, including health, education and the economy. I’m also conscious of the need to deliver a Brexit that works for Northern Ireland and to ensure everyone is safe and secure.

It is fitting my first visit should be to Titanic Quarter, which reflects both Belfast and Northern Ireland’s past and its future. Once one of the world’s leading industrial cities and now one of the world’s largest urban-waterfront regeneration schemes.

And I understand the importance of dealing with the past and securing a safe and prosperous future. My aim is to work collaboratively to find solutions to these issues acceptable to everyone.

I have spoken to all the main party leaders. While there will be many challenges in the coming weeks – which all parties will need to rise to – I will do all that I can to ensure that we find a way to restore devolution to Northern Ireland”.

Northern Ireland Secretary Welcomes Airbus Investment in Bombardier

James Brokenshire, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has welcomed the investment by Airbus into Bombardier. The move would allow the C-Series to be produced and avoid proposed US tariffs, as well as ensuring the employment of many workers in Northern Ireland.

Brokenshire said in a statement:

“Last night’s announcement that Airbus is taking a stake in Bombardier’s C-Series is positive and welcome news for Northern Ireland.

We have been working tirelessly across Government to secure the future of the C-Series in recent months, and we will continue to do all we can to ensure the unjustified case brought by Boeing reaches a swift and effective resolution.

Our number one priority throughout has been to safeguard jobs and livelihoods in Belfast. While there are still some steps before the deal is completed, this is clearly a significant move forward for the C-Series and for the workforce in Northern Ireland”.