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Micheál Martin Liam McBurry PA Images
Micheál Martin

Taoiseach: New British prime minister needs to be appointed 'as quickly as possible'

Truss resigned after just six weeks in office.

LAST UPDATE | 20 Oct 2022

MICHEÁL MARTIN HAS said a new Prime Minister needs to be appointed “as quickly as possible”.

He said both countries needed to work together to protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement and to support stability in Northern Ireland, with an “urgent” need for greater “EU-UK engagement to reach agreement” on the implementation of the Protocol. 

A replacement is all the more vital given “truly significant geopolitical” issues facing Europe in the form of war in Ukraine and the energy crisis, Martin said.

The Taoiseach was reacting to the news that Liz Truss had resigned as leader of the United Kingdom this afternoon after just six weeks in office. 

It came following intense criticism of the Tory leader who had been under fire from within the party and beyond over damaging economic decisions, resignations, and dramatic scenes in parliament last night. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar wished her the best, saying that Truss “made a difficult decision with dignity in very trying circumstances” in a post on social media.

Speaking to reporters today, Martin said that as “Britain’s nearest neighbour”, it is in Ireland’s interests to a see a new UK leader “selected as quickly as possible”, particularly given that a “major war” is underway in Europe. 

The Fianna Fáil leader said that “on a personal level I sympathise with her” as it had been a “very difficult time” for Truss in office, “given all that has happened before”. 

He said he had had a number of opportunities to engage with his UK counterpart and conveyed his “best wishes to her and her family, following today’s announcement of her resignation”. 

Elsewhere, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald said the brief premiership had “fuelled political instability” in Northern Ireland, while her predecessor Gerry Adams chose fewer words in his tweet about the resignation. 

In a statement issued on the departure, Martin said vital responsibilities remain for the British and Irish Governments in “working together to protect the gains of the Good Friday Agreement”, and supporting peace and stability in Northern Ireland.

“Substantive EU-UK engagement to reach agreement on outstanding issues around implementation of the Protocol is ever more urgent.

“Britain is Ireland’s closest neighbour and a relationship of partnership between the British and Irish Governments is vital for peace and prosperity on these islands. I remain committed to working with the British Government in this spirit.”

Earlier, Martin told reporters that major issues such as the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis meant that a successor needed to be found for Truss.

“It’s a matter for Britain and the British political system. Stability is important during these times as a major war is underway on the continent of Europe,” he said.

The taoiseach added that “stability is very important and we would like to see the UK system . . .  to be in a position to have a successor selected as quickly as possible”.

’45 days of chaos and incompetence’ 

Giving her reaction, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald said it is ordinary workers and families who are being punished by “continuing chaos and incompetence” at the heart of a chaotic Tory government in London.

“Liz Truss’ legacy will be soaring mortgage payments, wrecking the economy, lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses and working in the interests of the super-rich,” McDonald said. 

“Forty-five days of chaos and dysfunction at the heart of the Tory Party has ended with the resignation of Liz Truss.

“Forty-five days that worsened an economic crisis and fuelled political instability in the north, while punishing ordinary workers and families who are struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table.

“Forty-five days which laid bare the damage that Brexit has caused Britain politically on the international stage and which has deepened the conversation on constitutional change.”

McDonald said the “rudderless” government has “no mandate in Ireland” and that the new British Prime Minister “needs to ensure that the Protocol continues to create jobs and investment by protecting our businesses from the damage of Brexit”.

The Dublin TD added that “only a locally elected Executive and Ministers working together will properly serve the interests of people here”, stating there are eight days left to restore the Assembly and form a government.

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