Micheál Martin and Boris Johnson set for first meeting in Northern Ireland

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will meet Prime Minister in Northern Ireland tomorrow for the first time.

he two leaders will meet in Hillsborough Castle in Co Down to discuss the pandemic, Brexit and other issues facing Ireland and Britain.

Mr Martin and Mr Johnson have spoken by phone since the Fianna Fáil leader was elected Taoiseach but this will be first time they meet face-to-face.

The meeting was originally planned for last Tuesday but the meeting was rescheduled due to the passing of former SDLP leader John Hume.

The meeting comes as the EU and UK remain at loggerheads over striking a new trade deal ahead of the Brexit deadline on December 31. There are ongoing issues between negotiators over fishing rights and standards applied to goods traded between the regions.

Ireland and Northern Ireland are also seeking to align their responses to the coronavirus which will be discussed between the Taoiseach and the Prime Minister.

Last week, Mr Martin suggested Britain may become less committed to Northern Ireland and said his Share Ireland Unit in the Department of the Taoiseach as planning for this eventuality.

However, the UK government’s Northern Ireland Office insisted Britain remains fully committed to Northern Ireland. DUP Leader Arlene Foster described Mr Martin’s comment as “disappointing”.

In a statement ahead of his visit, Mr Johnson said he will establish a centenary forum and centenary historical advisory panel to work alongside the Northern Assembly to mark 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland.

“As the country begins to get back on its feet in the wake of coronavirus, we cannot simply strive to rebuild, but we must commit to building back stronger than ever,” Mr Johnson

“I cannot overstate how important the close co-operation that we have seen between central and devolved government will continue to be to this. Together, we will make sure Northern Ireland is ready to take full advantage of the many opportunities that lie ahead and that no part of Northern Ireland is left behind.

“As we mark 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland, it is important that we celebrate its people, culture and traditions, along with its vital contribution to the United Kingdom,” he added.

Online Editors

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