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Tanaiste Coveney to discuss coronavirus efforts in teleconference with Northern Ireland leaders

Simon Coveney, Brandon Lewis, Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill will discuss steps to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

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Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Tanaiste Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Tanaiste Simon Coveney will hold a teleconference with the Northern Ireland Secretary of State and Stormont’s leaders to discuss ongoing cooperation to deal with coronavirus.

Mr Coveney will discuss steps the governments are taking to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak with Brandon Lewis, First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill later on Tuesday.

It will be the first time Mr Lewis will be involved in cross-border cooperation discussions.

The meeting is expected to take place around 12pm.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

On Monday, Mrs Foster and Ms O’Neill acknowledged they are at odds on certain coronavirus issues, but insisted they are united on the main goal of saving lives.

The First Minister and Deputy First Minister said differences of opinion should be expected within a five-party coalition government.

They made the comments following reports of growing tensions around the executive table over issues such as testing numbers, personal protection equipment stocks and closure of non-essential businesses.

Earlier this month, the two main executive parties, the DUP and Sinn Fein, were also divided on when schools should close.

Coronavirus
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and First Minister Arlene Foster (Liam McBurney/PA)

With 123 new cases of the infection reported, the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland is 533.

On Monday, Ireland’s death toll rose to 54, following the report of eight more deaths.

A total of 295 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported in the Republic, the highest daily total so far, bringing the overall number to 2,910.

The Republic and Northern Ireland have agreed to cooperate on a number of measures including the joint order of the personal protection equipment from China.

PA