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Johnson’s exit marks ‘opportunity’ to restore UK-Ireland ties: Irish PM

#Johnsons #exit #marks #opportunity #restore #UKIreland #ties #Irish

Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said on Thursday that Boris Johnson’s resignation as Conservative leader, paving the way for a new British prime minister, was “an opportunity” to reignite strained relations.

Martin added that relations between Dublin and London have “been strained and challenged of late”, not least because of rows over special post-Brexit trade deals in Britain-led Northern Ireland.

Johnson resigned as Tory leader after a series of scandals and an exodus of cabinet ministers, and will be replaced once his party’s MPs, and eventually its members, elect a successor.

“We now have an opportunity to return to the true spirit of partnership and mutual respect needed to underpin the achievements of the Good Friday Agreement,” Martin said in a statement.

The 1998 peace accord ended decades of bloodshed over British rule in Northern Ireland, but was increasingly strained by Brexit.

“Our shared responsibility in administering the Good Friday Agreement, as well as nurturing broader bilateral relationships between us, requires that we work together in a spirit of respect, trust and partnership,” Martin added.

“Now this is more important than ever and I urge once again to refrain from going it alone, be it dealing with the legacy of the past, human rights or the Northern Ireland Protocol.”

– ‘disrepute’ –

The UK agreed on the protocol with the European Union, keeping Northern Ireland in its single market and customs union, alongside its broader Brexit withdrawal agreement with the bloc.

But last month the UK government introduced legislation to unilaterally scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Pact.

The move comes amid a political deadlock in the province after union parties who argue they are threatening their place in the UK refused to rejoin power-sharing structures after the recent elections unless overhauled.

On Thursday, Northern Ireland’s first minister-elect, Michelle O’Neill, of Irish nationalist Sinn Fein – who won a historic first victory in May’s election – accused Johnson of trying to “sabotage” the peace there.

“It was utter absurdity that people here have been exposed to Boris Johnson for so long,” she said on Twitter ahead of his resignation announcement.

“He is an absolutely disreputable character. Anyone trying to sabotage our peace deals, a quarter century of progress, and our common future is really no friend of ours.”

Johnson, who wants to remain in office for several months until his successor is elected, announced a new Foreign Secretary for Northern Ireland on Thursday.

The newly appointed minister, Shailesh Vara, takes office after the resignation of his predecessor Brandon Lewis – one of more than 50 members of the UK government who resigned in what was ultimately a successful attempt to oust Johnson.

Vara previously served as Junior Minister in the UK Office of Northern Ireland in 2018.

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#Johnsons #exit #marks #opportunity #restore #UKIreland #ties #Irish

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