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Two different approaches but one aim: ambassador

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A commuter wears a face mask while taking a bus in Westminster, London

A commuter wears a face mask while taking a bus in Westminster, London

PA

A commuter wears a face mask while taking a bus in Westminster, London

The British Ambassador to Ireland has acknowledged that the UK and Republic have taken different approaches to dealing with coronavirus - but said the two countries had the same aim.

Robin Barnett, who celebrated 40 years as a diplomat on St Patrick's Day, said he has "never known anything like the Covid-19 crisis. Its impact is global and nobody is immune from it".

He said: "I know there has been a lot of interest in any differences in the UK and Irish approach to tackling Covid-19.

"My message is simple. Both governments are doing everything they can to delay and to flatten the curve. To do so, we are following the advice of our expert scientists, especially our Chief Medical Officers. Those who say we are not following the science are wrong.

"The advice we are following reflects the specific patterns of development of the virus in both countries and informs any new measures to counter the disease. So we will sometimes take different steps but our shared objectives are protecting our health services and saving lives.

"As we do so, our two governments are in close contact recognising the unique circumstances including the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, but also the Common Travel Area."

Mr Barnett said that as well as a phone call between the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach, "there have been recent conversations around common challenges between our Secretaries of State for Health, Foreign Affairs, Northern Ireland and Transport with the Tánaiste and other Irish counterparts. Our Chief Medical Officers are in contact too".

He also said his "whole Embassy team is hard at work facilitating bilateral engagement", such as repatriating those stranded abroad.

Belfast Telegraph