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Flanagan has discussions in Belfast on UK EU Referendum, Stormont House & Fresh Start Agreement

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, was in Belfast today (Wednesday) to meet with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, MP, and the Northern Ireland Executive, to discuss the outcome of the UK referendum and to review implementation of the Stormont House and Fresh Start Agreements. He also met with NI Opposition parties.

Speaking after the meetings, the Minister said:

“Today’s meetings in Belfast provided a welcome opportunity to discuss the outcome of the UK EU Referendum result. I outlined the importance of us all working together in the best interests of the people on this island. I reiterated the Government’s commitment to the stability and prosperity of Northern Ireland and how we will seek to highlight the need for the EU to take account of the Northern Ireland dimension in upcoming negotiations in order to minimise any negative impact that may arise as a result.”

Referring to the Agreement review, the Minister stated:

"We evaluated the progress that has been made on implementation of the Fresh Start and Stormont House Agreements. The Agreements have built on the foundations set down by the Good Friday and succeeding agreements and have delivered a new political, social and economic framework for Northern Ireland.

“It is vital that we implement these Agreements in full, so that their potential and benefits are fully realised, North and South.

“I am also keen to see progress on an agreement over the coming months to establish the institutions for dealing with the legacy of the past. This is something that I believe we can achieve.

While in Belfast the Minister also held a series for bilateral meetings with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Ms Theresa Villiers MP, the leader of the SDLP Mr Colum Eastwood MLA, and the leader of the Alliance Party Mr David Ford MLA.

“The focus of these meetings largely centred on last week’s referendum and what it means for Northern Ireland. I assured Mr Eastwood and Mr Ford that the Good Friday Agreement remains the template for political relationships on this island and between these islands and that Friday’s result does not in any way diminish the centrality of the Good Friday Agreement or the two Governments’ commitment to uphold it. As a co-guarantor of the Good Friday and succeeding Agreements, the Irish Government is determined that its institutions, values and principles will be fully protected.

“I also outlined our immediate strategy which will be to sit down with the British Government and with the Northern Ireland Executive and to urgently discuss how collectively we are together going to protect the gains of the last decades and to prevent the worst effects of a UK departure from the EU.

“Next Monday's plenary meeting of the NSMC, chaired by the Taoiseach, will also be a valuable opportunity for a strategic discussion between the Irish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive on how we together best respond to the challenges of a UK vote to leave the EU.

“Separately, I spoke with Secretary of State Villiers on issues surrounding the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland. We also discussed the Police Ombudsman’s report into the killings at Loughinisland that was published earlier this month and the recent All-Party Dáil Motion on the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.”

ENDS

Press Office

29 June 2016