During Micheál Martin’s first visit to Stormont as Taoiseach, the First Minister and deputy First Minister said a positive working relationship was in everyone’s interests.
They discussed a range of issues including Brexit, the Covid-19 response and New Decade, New Approach. They also agreed to hold a plenary meeting of the North South Ministerial Council on July 31.
First Minister Arlene Foster said: “I was pleased to welcome Micheál to Northern Ireland today for his first visit here as Taoiseach.
“We had a productive discussion around areas of mutual interest. Recovery from the Coronavirus pandemic was a key focus of our conversation as we work simultaneously to protect people and rebuild our economies.
“As two jurisdictions sharing an island it makes perfect sense that Northern Ireland seeks to build a positive relationship with our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland. We have seen the benefits of collaboration through the North West Cancer Centre and the all-island Congenital Heart Disease Network, for example.
“I told the Taoiseach that I am keen to have positive dialogue during his tenure based on mutual respect for both jurisdictions and understanding of each other’s differences. I look forward to continuing that engagement in the future for the benefit of the people who live here.”
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “I welcome An Taoiseach’s visit north to meet with us today. We had much to talk about, both in terms of immediate matters and the need to make progress on a number of longstanding issues and commitments.
“We discussed economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the ongoing public health response and the need for a joined up approach across the island where possible.
“We spoke about the potential implications of Brexit and the pressing concerns this raises. I set out the need to work together to protect the needs and interests of people and businesses across this island.
“Key to addressing this critical issue and other strategic challenges is the immediate restoration of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement, and I’m pleased that a meeting of the North South Ministerial Council has now been confirmed for July 31.
“It is now six months since the restoration of the Executive and I made clear to Micheál that we must see delivery of all the Irish Government’s commitments in New Decade, New Approach. I look forward to working on a north-south basis to ensure those crucial funding and practical commitments are fulfilled as soon as possible.”