PM's meeting with Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin: 13 August 2020

Andrew Cummings
August 13, 2020

It was Johnson's first visit to Northern Ireland since Stormont powersharing was restored in January, and his first face-to-face meeting with his Irish opposite number since a new Government was formed in Dublin. "I am very pleased to develop our friendship and relationship now".

The Taoiseach said he and Mr Johnson agreed it is "absolutely essential" that a free trade agreement be reached between the European Union and UK.

Martin said the pair would enjoy a warm working relationship.

The subsequent Brexit negotiations in turn angered pro-British unionists who were outraged at Johnson's decision to agree a Brexit deal that will see European Union customs rates and regulations remain in place Northern Ireland while the rest of Britain goes its own way.

"It is challenging times ahead with Covid, Brexit, all of that".

The Taoiseach paid tribute to the late SDLP leader John Hume whose legacy, he said, facilitated meetings like that of the two leaders.

Martin said he and Johnson, who met in British-ruled Northern Ireland, had agreed on the "absolute necessity" that such an accord would be tariff and quota free and on the need to reach a deal as quickly as possible.

Mr Martin said both sides knew that they needed to avoid another economic shock following Covid-19.

"It is important for us both in terms of the British-Irish relationship which has been the cornerstone of much progress on the island of Ireland and between our two countries for well over two to three decades, and we want to maintain that", he said.

He is expected to say that a centenary forum and historical advisory panel will be established to work alongside the government to mark 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland. Our priority remains protecting Northern Ireland's place in our United Kingdom and preserving the huge gains from the peace process.

She said Sinn Fein will be highlighting the impacts of partition no nationalist communities during the centenary celebrations.

Mr Johnson's ambitious plan to bridge the Irish Sea, linking Northern Ireland to the mainland for the first time since the end of the last Ice Age, is part of his "build, build, build" agenda for the UK.

Ms Foster joked: 'That is a man's answer'.

Other reports by iNewsToday