Northern Ireland news

Johnson to tell Stormont leaders to 'get back to work' during visit to north

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to visit Northern Ireland today to speak with political parties as the DUP continues to thwart the formation of a new Stormont administration. Photo: Rob Pinney/PA Wire.
Paul Ainsworth

BORIS Johnson is to tell the north's politicians they must "get back to work" at Stormont during a visit today.

The British prime minister is set to deliver his "tough message" during meetings with party leaders in what will be his first visit to the north since the recent Assembly election.

He is also expected to commit to the delivery of Irish language legislation, abortion regulations and reveal more on the UK's plan to introduce new Troubles legacy legislation.

The visit is taking place against a backdrop of uncertainty over the NI Protocol, as it is feared the UK is preparing to take unilateral action to override parts of the post-Brexit deal.

Ahead of today's visit, Mr Johnson - who signed the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement containing the protocol in 2019 along with the EU - said the UK would "play its part to ensure political stability", and is expected to say any action to fix the protocol must result in all parties "coming together to form and Executive and Assembly".

"The PM will update party leaders on the UK Government’s discussions with EU leaders over recent days, in which the EU have confirmed that they will never change their current negotiating mandate," a Number 10 spokesperson said last night, adding that Mr Johnson will tell them he will "always keep the door open to genuine dialogue".

The spokesperson said the PM would highlight "a necessity to act" to protect the Good Friday Agreement "if the EU does not change its position".

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said she will urge Prime Minister Boris Johnson that those who are preventing the Stormont Assembly from working should not be able to draw a salary.

“That’s the most important thing at this juncture because I think people over the weekend have been genuinely angry at the thought that people who are blocking the restoration of the institutions, stopping the Assembly from sitting – which was never part of the DUP’s agenda during the election – are still able to turn up and still able to get paid. So, I will be telling him that very clearly,” she told the BBC.

Ms Long also contended she felt issues around the Northern Ireland Protocol are being “exaggerated both by the DUP and by the UK Government”.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is also expected to guarantee the delivery of long-awaited Irish language legislation as promised in the New Decade, New Approach deal's Language and Culture Package.

On the legacy plans previously described by critics as a "amnesty" for murders committed during the Troubles, the spokesperson said details would emerge "in the coming days and weeks".

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