Taoiseach and tánaiste's same day visits highlight Dublin's 'commitment to breaking protocol deadlock and restoring Stormont institutions'
TAOISEACH Leo Varadkar and Tánaiste Micheál Martin will today hold a series of meetings in the north amid an intensification of efforts to break the protocol deadlock and restore the power-sharing institutions.
The Irish government leaders' meetings coincide with the visit of Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, who is expected to hold discussions with Stormont's parties throughout the day.
Mr Varadkar will also engage with the party leaders today, including Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald, as well as meeting the Northern Ireland Brexit Business Working Group. Mr Martin is meanwhile expected to meet Secretary of State Chris Heaton Harris at Hillsborough Castle.
The tánaiste will also travel to Armagh, where he will visit the Secretariat of the North South Ministerial Council, attend the launch of a new Shared Island Civic Society Fund, and meet victims and survivors of Troubles-related violence.
A statement last night from the Irish government said: "These two visits happening on the same day is a clear sign of the government’s commitment to resolving the difficulties around the protocol and helping ensure that the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement can once again operate effectively across all three strands.
"The taoiseach’s meetings will be an opportunity for him to engage at first hand with both political and business leaders on key political issues and on the Northern Ireland Protocol, and to stress the importance of making progress on an EU-UK agreement and restoration of the NI Executive."
The statement noted that the North/South Ministerial Council, what it termed "the core institution of Strand II", had not met in any of its configurations since November 2021.
"The tánaiste’s visit to the secretariat is a sign of support for those working there and a sign of the importance the government attaches to Strand II," it said.
Mr Starmer will speak at Queen's University in Belfast tomorrow morning, where he is expected to set out the Labour Party’s vision for the future of Northern Ireland.