Belfast Telegraph

'The excuses need to end' - Stormont talks announced for May 7

Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley during a press conference at Stormont in Belfast. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley during a press conference at Stormont in Belfast. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

Politicians in Northern Ireland have been told "the excuses need to end", as a new talks process aimed at restoring power-sharing is announced for May 7.

Speaking in Stormont on Friday afternoon, Tanaiste Simon Coveney and Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley said they are determined to see the talks process succeed in the wake of the murder of journalist Lyra McKee.

Ms Bradley said the "sickening" murder of journalist Lyra McKee had "deeply shocked everyone across the world".

"Lyra was a brilliant, talented journalist, a role model for many, who always fought to make Northern Ireland a better place," said Ms Bradley.

"Since Lyra's death, communities across Northern Ireland and the political spectrum have come together, united in condemnation at this murderous act.

"They have delivered a clear message - the people responsible for this act of terrorism have absolutely nothing to offer Northern Ireland and have no place in society."

"The Tanaiste and I will do everything in our power to make sure these talks are a success. These talks offer us a chance to move forward, restore the political institutions and deliver for the people of Northern Ireland."

We have a narrow window in which genuine progress can be made and we must act now. Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley

LIVE: Joint British and Irish Governmental statement on Stormont talks with Secretary of State Karen Bradley and Tanaiste Simon Coveney

Posted by Belfast Telegraph on Friday, April 26, 2019

Talks between Northern Ireland's main parties will begin on May 7, followed by a meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council the following day.

Simon Coveney paid tribute to Lyra McKee and issued a message to the dissident republicans responsible for her murder.

"On dissident republicans let me say this: The people of Derry, the people of Creggan and the wider community are good, decent people. The people responsible for this murder do not represent them," he said.

"There is an urgent need for positive and determined action at all political levels in Northern Ireland.

"Two years and counting without an Assembly, Executive and North-South Ministerial Council, we are leaving far to much wide open space for other voices that don't believe in democracy but peddle hate and fear."

The excuses need to end, we owe that to the memory of Lyra in particular, but many others too. Tanaiste Simon Coveney

He added: "I think what every decent-thinking person in Northern Ireland wants now is to see us take that spark of determination that I think we have all felt in the last few days and to see if we can build a momentum from that to do something real and positive.

"We need this to be a talks process that genuinely tackles the issues through compromise. People have no time for a talks process that shows no progress and goes on and on and on with no solution.

"People will tell you it's not the right time, that we should wait. In my experience, it's never the right time in Northern Ireland."

Mr Coveney said the governments had deliberately not set a deadline for the completion of talks, as this would not be "helpful".

He said: "Time is short here and we will need to make this process work within weeks, rather than months."

He said that it was hoped that progress will have been made by the time of the planned review at the end of May and that "hopefully shortly after that we can find agreement".

In a joint statement issued on Friday afternoon, Prime Minister Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said what is needed is "actions and not just words" from all in those positions of leadership.

"We understand the complexity of the underlying concerns of all parties, and the need for renewed trust, mutual respect, generosity and new thinking to resolve the issues," they said.

"As Prime Minister and Taoiseach, we are determined to work together to ensure this process comes to a successful conclusion. We will review progress at the end of May.”

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