Micheál Martin to meet with Boris Johnson in Northern Ireland later today

Marco Green
August 14, 2020

"I am delighted that the prime minister is in Northern Ireland today, and has announced the first stage of our plans to mark this centenary", he said.

It was the PM's first trip to NI since power sharing was restored in January.

Consecutive polls have shown support for a second vote and the SNP in next year's general elections where Nicola Sturgeon, who remains 100 points ahead of Boris Johnson in Scottish voters' approval ratings, is expected to win a landslide victory in next year's Holyrood vote.

The centenary is an opportunity to celebrate the people, places and products of Northern Ireland, which has such rich sporting, cultural, entrepreneurial and academic talent.

Johnson was a strong proponent of the plan, while, in a 2016 referendum, Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union, 56 to 44 percent. "Let's just get on and do it".

He will meet First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the centenary year would promote the region on a world stage.

Stormont leaders are at a disagreement as to whether the centenary of Northern Ireland's establishment is cause for celebration or a reminder of sectarianism.

"There is no doubt in most people's minds that partition has failed everyone, our people, our economy, our two islands", she said. The Irish leader said Johnson was "very committed" to reaching a comprehensive agreement with the alliance.

Boris Johnson presents himself as an optimist - a glass half-full prime minister rather than a glass half-empty one.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it was important that the centenary events were respectful and enlightening.

There is much scepticism over what a "Boris Brexit" looks like - even his once-close allies in the DUP have real concerns about economic life for some businesses after the European Union withdrawal.

On his first visit to Northern Ireland since the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson sought to talk up the strength of union between Britain's constituent nations.

O'Neill said she had called for a British-Irish Council meeting for a Covid-19 response and that it was met favorably by Mr. Johnson.

He is expected to outline the first stage of plans to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland's foundation.

Arlene Foster says events to mark the centenary can be inclusive.

The Prime Minister was speaking on a visit to the Ambulance Service HQ in Belfast on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Johnson said the pandemic had demonstrated the strength of the United Kingdom and that Westminster and Stormont have worked closely together to get through the crisis.

Last week, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove set out details of £355m in funding for a system to ease trade going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Although Mr Johnson previously estimated the cost at around £15bn.

He insisted: "There will be no border down the Irish Sea - over my dead body".

"I am very pleased to develop our friendship and relationship now".

Mr Martin said it is "absolutely essential" that Ireland and the United Kingdom develop a strong relationship after Brexit and invest in shared projects on the island of Ireland.

"It seems to me that there is a landing zone if that will is there on both sides, and I think it is", said Martin, who became prime minister in June.

Nearly four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and global politics.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER