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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar today in Maynooth Eamonn Farrell/Rolling News
Stormont

Varadkar says 'real possibility' Northern Ireland Executive can be restored by early next year

The Northern Ireland Executive collapsed last year when the DUP withdrew from powersharing in protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements between Northern Ireland and Britain.

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said there is a “real possibility” Northern Ireland’s powersharing institutions could return before Christmas or in the New Year.

“For now, it’s still plan A,” he told reporters at the Fine Gael special conference in Kildare this afternoon.

“We still believe it’s possible to have the Executive and Assembly, all institutions of the Good Friday Agreement up and running, perhaps the next few weeks, perhaps in the new year.

“And there are contacts, there are discussions going on behind the scenes at the moment, and they’re making some progress.”

He added: “I’m probably a little bit more encouraged now than maybe I was a few weeks ago, but not by any means complacent about the difficulties that are going to arise.

“And I think the British-Irish Council next week in Dublin, and the (British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference) is an opportunity to further develop that.

“I believe there is a real possibility that we could get the Assembly and Executive up and running again, either before Christmas or in the new year.”

The Northern Ireland Executive collapsed last year when the DUP withdrew from powersharing in protest at post-Brexit trading arrangements between Northern Ireland and Britain.

The DUP has refused to support the return of the Assembly at Stormont until their concerns around the so-called Irish Sea border are addressed.

Next week, the British-Irish Council will meet in Dublin.

Established in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement, the Council is an intergovernment organisation made up of the Irish and British governments and the devolved administrations of the United Kingdom.

It aims to promote collaboration, dialogue, and cooperation on matters of mutual interest and shared concern.

Additional reporting from Jane Matthews.

Author
Press Association
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