Taoiseach says it’s ‘unacceptable’ that DUP is blocking return of Northern Ireland Assembly
It is “unacceptable” that the DUP is preventing a parliament from convening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said.
Mr Martin met Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill, who is poised to become first minster, in Dublin today, as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson held talks with parties in Northern Ireland amid political deadlock over the post-Brexit arrangements in the region.
Mr Martin called for “substantive talks” between the UK and the EU as the DUP refuses to enter a new power-sharing government unless significant changes are made to the Northern Ireland protocol.
“The idea now that a parliament is being prevented from convening is very difficult to comprehend,” he said.
“The people spoke, the people elected their representatives and at the minimum it seems to me that an assembly should be established.
“It’s really unacceptable that efforts have been made essentially to prevent convening of a democratically elected assembly, or a democratically elected parliament.”
The Taoiseach spoke with European Council President Charles Michel today via phone, where they discussed the recent elections in Northern Ireland.
“We’re all agreed that the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement should be established,” he said.
He also said that US President Joe Biden has made it clear that he is “just phone call away” if there is a need for support and that he supports the Good Friday Agreement.
The Taoiseach also said that the issues of health, housing and cost of living are now, which the people of Northern Ireland voted on, are now not being dealt with.
He did not rule out face-to-face talks between himself and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, but he said that in the "first instance" substantive talks had to take place between London and Brussels.
Mr Martin stressed the role the Government can play as a facilitator in talks between the two sides.
He also spoke of "dismay" at the idea the UK could take unilateral action on the Northern Ireland Protocol, while adding that Mr Johnson had made "important" points in an article written for the Belfast Telegraph.
In the article Mr Johnson said the UK will have a "necessity to act" if the EU is unwilling to reach a compromise in the deepening row over the protocol.
However, he stressed the Government remained open to "genuine dialogue" with the European Commission.
He said the protocol had been negotiated in "good faith", adding that "those who want to scrap the protocol, rather than seeking changes, are focusing on the wrong thing".
Mr Martin said: "He does accept that there's a need for a protocol. He's not talking about getting rid of the protocol.
"But really at the end of the day, the only way this can be resolved is through substantive discussions."