Talks resume with hopes of restoring Stormont executive

Simon Coveney is travelling to Belfast on Wednesday

Talks resume with hopes of restoring Stormont executive

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney shakes hands with Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley at the Northern Ireland Office in Westminster, London | Image: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/PA Images

Tánaiste and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney is travelling to Belfast on Wednesday as talks are set to resume to restore a power-sharing executive at Stormont.

Mr Coveney will hold meetings with the newly-appointed Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley and all of the main parties there.

Speaking ahead of talks, Minister Coveney said: "I am very mindful in this the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement of the ongoing responsibility of the British and Irish Governments, as co-guarantors, to ensure the effective functioning of that agreement and all of its institutions.

"In that context, the Secretary of State and I have made clear our determination to do everything we can to support a return to devolved power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

"I do not dispute that there are difficult negotiations ahead for the parties and we all know that time is short.

"However, everyone agrees that devolution and a power-sharing Executive are in the interests of everyone in Northern Ireland and I believe everyone is willing to strive to achieve that."

The Stormont executive has not sat since last January.

Negotiations between parties in the North have failed to reach agreement on forming a new executive since the assembly election.

Amid the stalemate the then-Nothern Ireland Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, moved to bring forward a budget for Stormont from Westminster in November.

Mr Brokenshire resigned earlier this month for health reasons.

His successor, Ms Bradley, has previously said the UK government "remains fully committed to the Belfast Agreement, its principles and institutions."

"Clearly, there are immediate challenges. It is now a year since Northern Ireland has had an effective, functioning power-sharing administration, and forming a Northern Ireland Executive, to deliver for the benefit of all, is my top priority.

"I believe a devolved government in Belfast is best placed to address these issues and take the key decisions which affect people’s day to day lives - whether these relate to the economy, public services or issues of policing and justice", she added.