Irish government ‘happy to contribute' to financial package if Stormont revived
The Irish Government would be “happy to contribute” to any financial package that would support the return of Northern Ireland’s powersharing institutions.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said at the party’s special conference this weekend that there is a “real possibility” the Stormont Assembly and Executive could return by Christmas or in the new year.
Devolved government in Northern Ireland has been on hold for more than a year and a half as the DUP refuses to re-engage with the Stormont Assembly and Executive until its concerns are eased about post-Brexit trading arrangements with Great Britain.
The UK Government and EU agreed the Windsor Framework earlier this year in an attempt to address concerns raised.
However, the DUP had said it still had concerns, and has been in talks with the UK Government since then in an attempt to break the impasse.
Earlier this week, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris indicated that he believed the talks were in the “final phase”, while DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said they were “in the process of refining legislation” that protects Northern Ireland’s ability to trade within the UK.
Speaking on Sunday, Mr Varadkar said that negotiations were continuing behind the scenes, and pointed out two major British-Irish events where the Irish and British governments will meet.
He said that Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill was correct that it was “beyond time” that the Stormont Assembly and Executive should be revived, and it should have happened after the region’s elections last summer.
“I’m not putting a deadline on it,” he told RTE’s The Week In Politics.
“There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes but one thing I think is really crucial, and all of the parties I talked to in Northern Ireland say this, is that if the executive and assembly are back up and running, we want it to be a success.
“We don’t want it to last for six months and then collapse for one reason or another. So, sustainability is going to be important. The programme for government’s going to be important.
“The financial package is going to be important, too, and we’re happy to contribute to that.”
The British Irish Council is taking place in Dublin next week, led by the Taoiseach, while the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference will be led by Tanaiste Micheal Martin.