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Minister Seán Sherlock calls for respectful dialogue to resolve Stormont disagreement

Minister Seán Sherlock calls for respectful dialogue to resolve Stormont disagreement in address to British Houses of Parliament

The Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North-South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, today urged the North’s parties to engage in patient, respectful dialogue to resolve the current difficulties on welfare reform in Stormont.

Addressing the CHAMP St Patrick’s Day reception in the Houses of Parliament in London, Minister Sherlock said:

“While developments yesterday in regard to the Welfare Bill in Northern Ireland are deeply disappointing, the progress made in Northern Ireland over the past year has demonstrated that we have come a long, long distance. Let us remember that the Stormont House Agreement covers a broad range of political, economic and social issues.

“It includes a commitment on new sectoral priorities for North/South cooperation and further development of the North West through the North West Gateway Initiative and, very significantly, the Agreement establishes a new comprehensive framework for dealing with the legacy of the Past.

“While we still have some way to go in delivering on the promise of lasting peace, reconciliation and prosperity, the Stormont House Agreement has renewed our collective efforts and offers a clear path forward. A solution to the current difficulties on welfare reform can only be found through patient and mutually respectful dialogue.

“Let me assure you that the Irish Government remains committed to playing its part in ensuring the full implementation of the Agreement.”

In his address, Minister Sherlock also highlighted the strengthening bonds between Ireland and Britain:

“In recent years we have truly moved into a golden era of friendship between neighbours. Political and economic ties have blossomed. During this visit I am leading a trade mission focused on Irish companies working in the water sector in London which I believe will further contribute to the substantial flows of trade across the Irish Sea and confer huge benefit on both our economies.

“Without doubt, our shared membership of the European Union over the past forty years and our close partnership on the Northern Ireland peace process, including the Good Friday Agreement, have transformed political relations between these islands and on the island of Ireland itself.”

The CHAMP event is Britain’s pre-eminent St Patrick’s Day event and is organised by Tourism Ireland. CHAMP is a not-for-profit organisation which promotes peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland, and throughout Ireland and Britain. CHAMP works to raise awareness of the progress being made in Northern Ireland and to bring these achievements to the attention of international political and business leaders.

Minister Sherlock is leading an Enterprise Ireland trade mission to London where he delivered the keynote address at the World Water Tech Investment Summit and hosted a number of networking events providing opportunities for Irish companies to strengthen their business connections with overseas markets.