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Minister Flanagan welcomes progress at first Fresh Start Agreement implementation review meeting

Minister Flanagan welcomes progress on the implementation of the Fresh Start Agreement at first implementation review meeting

Minister has bilateral meetings with new First Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers

Speaking today from Belfast following the first review meeting on the implementation of the Fresh Start Agreement, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charles Flanagan TD, stated:

We had a very good first review meeting on the implementation of the Fresh Start Agreement and acknowledged that much has been achieved already. We agreed that it is now important to maintain this momentum if we are to make sure that the benefits of the Fresh Start Agreement are fully realised and enjoyed by people of Northern Ireland.”

On the detail of the meeting, Minister Flanagan said:

I reported on the work already underway on delivering the financial commitments agreed by the Irish Government under the Fresh Start Agreement including support for North South infrastructure, such as the A5 road and support for the North West Gateway investment initiative. The €2.5 million committed by the Government for the North West Development Fund has already been provided and this will be matched by funding from the Northern Ireland Executive.

“The review meeting also recognised that commitments under the Agreement with regard to ending paramilitarism and tackling associated criminality are already well advanced, including the establishment of the Joint Agency Task Force on combatting cross jurisdictional organised crime.

“Work is also underway with the British Government on preparing the international agreement required for the establishment of the four person body which will monitor progress on ending paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland."

While in Belfast, Minister Flanagan also met bilaterally with Secretary of State Villiers. He stated:

I also had a good meeting with the Secretary of State where we continued our discussion on how best to take forward the issue of dealing with the legacy of the past. We shared a view that the new institutional framework for dealing with the past as set out in the Stormont House Agreement remains the best way of bringing whatever healing is possible to victims, survivors and their loved ones.

"Work with the British Government and contacts with Victims’ Groups and Northern Ireland parties will continue with a view to achieving an agreed basis for the establishment of the new legacy institutions.

“I also raised again with the Secretary of State the Dublin Monaghan bombings and her commitment to reflect afresh on this case in light of the All Party Dáil motions of 2008 and 2011.The Secretary of State confirmed that she is still actively considering this issue."

Minister Flanagan also held his first official meeting with Arlene Foster in her new role as First Minister of Northern Ireland. He stated:

I was also pleased to meet Arlene Foster following her election as DUP leader and appointment as First Minister. I congratulated Arlene on her achievements and expressed the Government’s wish to continue working closely with her and with the deputy First Minister in the interests of Northern Ireland, including through the implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements and the advancement of North South cooperation.

“I also briefed her on the Government’s plans for this year of commemorations that include both the Easter Rising and the Somme, and our efforts to make them an inclusive experience for all people on the island of Ireland.”

Press Office
14 January 2016