Saturday 24 February 2018

Coveney calls for North deal to 'involve all five parties'

Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: PA
Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney. Photo: PA

David Young and Noel McAdam

Any deal to salvage power- sharing at Stormont should involve Northern Ireland's five main parties, Simon Coveney has said.

The newly appointed Foreign Affairs Minister said an agreement should not be an accord struck only between the two largest parties - the DUP and Sinn Féin.

If a new executive is formed it should ideally include the SDLP, Ulster Unionists and Alliance Party, said Mr Coveney.

Recent political agreements in Northern Ireland have essentially been negotiated between the DUP and Sinn Féin.

During previous talks processes, the smaller parties have claimed they have been marginalised.

"I think it is important that whatever deal is done here involves all of the parties, not just the big two," said Mr Coveney.

"And that's why I think it is important to listen to the concerns and ideas and approaches on the key issues from all parties.

"I hope we will have an executive that will involve them all too."

Mr Coveney, who was taking part in the latest talks initiative in Belfast for the first time since his appointment last week, said he believed all five parties were up for making a deal.

"From all the parties there was a sense of can do, of positivity, while at the same time having firm and clear positions, as you would expect," he said.

"And there's work to be done to find middle ground in some of those areas and to accommodate the concerns of people while understanding the political obstacles that other parties may have in terms of some of the issues that are still under discussion."

Mr Coveney pledged to "spare no effort" to help get the Stormont power-sharing Executive back up and running.

He said: "I will do my utmost to support the parties in reaching an agreement which ensures the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement is fully protected, that all of its institutions function effectively and fairly and that previous agreements are honourably implemented.

"The people of Northern Ireland need devolved government working in the best interests of the whole community."

Irish Independent

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