Sunday 27 May 2018

FF leader queries removal of Flanagan

Speech: Micheal Martin Photo: Gerry Mooney
Speech: Micheal Martin Photo: Gerry Mooney
Wayne O'Connor

Wayne O'Connor

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the decision to remove Charlie Flanagan as Foreign Affairs Minister remains "unexplained and unjustified" in a speech in which he also accused the Government of being unimaginative and complacent in its response to Brexit challenges.

Mr Martin also called for the establishment of a special economic zone in Northern Ireland and border counties in the Republic, similar to the Shannon Free Zone where businesses previously enjoyed tax incentives, and a new bilateral treaty to prevent future economic issues. He added Irish and British governments must also prioritise relationships between Dublin and London.

"In Dublin there was an explicit stepping back from the idea that we had an ongoing role in ensuring the effective working of Northern institutions. An exception to this was during Charlie Flanagan's period in Iveagh House - and his removal from that post after such a brief and positive period remains unexplained and unjustified," Mr Martin told the British-Irish Association in Cambridge.

Foreign Affair Minister Simon Coveney responded in a speech at the same event last night, saying the Government would test Mr Martin's proposals "in a non-party partisan way". He added: "I also want to recognise the work of my predecessor, Charlie Flanagan, who continues to play a key role now as Justice Minister on issues relating to North-South relations, particularly on introducing legislation relating to the legacy issues of a painful past."

Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire also paid tribute to Mr Flanagan.

Sunday Independent

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