Northern Ireland: Boris Johnson Urges Restoring Devolved Government

31 July 2019, 16:44 | Updated: 31 July 2019, 16:46

Boris Johnson Visits Northern Ireland
Boris Johnson Visits Northern Ireland. Picture: Getty

Boris Johnson met the five main political party leaders in Northern Ireland and said "serious and intense engagement" would be needed to restore power-sharing and to deliver Brexit.

As part of his three day tour of the UK's devolved nations, Boris Johnson visited Northern Ireland where his talks focused on restoring power-sharing government.

In talks in Belfast with Stormont parties, Boris Johnson urged Northern Ireland to step up its efforts to restore devolved government.

Northern Ireland has been without a government since January 2017, when the power-sharing DUP/Sinn Féin coalition collapsed.

Mr Johnson also promised he would do everything he could to break the Brexit deadlock and resolve the problem of the Irish border.

DUP Leader Arlene Foster Prime Minister Boris Johnson Northern Ireland
DUP Leader Arlene Foster while waiting for the arrival of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in front of Carson's statue at Stormont House in Belfast. Picture: PA

He repeated his pledge that the UK will be leaving the EU in 92 days' time "come what may", despite his "intention to do so with a deal", Downing Street revealed.

DUP Leader Arlene Foster stressed "it is very important that the backstop goes" and said she hoped the new PM would get across the message to the EU that they cannot break up the United Kingdom because "essentially that's what the backstop was doing."

Sinn Féin Leader Mary Lou McDonald warned the British prime minister it would be ‘unthinkable’ if a no-deal Brexit was not followed by a poll on Irish reunification.

People who live along the Irish border have been protesting, claiming a hard Brexit will disrupt their daily lives.

Sinn Fein Boris Johnson Northern Ireland
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald speaking to the media. Picture: PA

A Downing Street spokesperson said in all scenarios, the government is steadfast in its commitment to the Belfast-Good Friday Agreement and that in no circumstances would there be physical checks or infrastructure on the border.

DUP chief whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the current chances of a no-deal Brexit were "significant".

Asked about the warnings of 40,000 job losses in Northern Ireland, he said that was at the "very high end of the scale" and he was not convinced a no-deal would result in that type of outcome.

Mr Johnson concluded by telling the parties while there had been constructive progress in the talks at Stormont, "there now needed to be serious and intense engagement to get this done".