Biden’s remarks were an exhortation for everyone to work together – Martin

President Joe Biden’s remarks that the UK should work more closely with Ireland to support the people of Northern Ireland were a call to all to cooperate, Tanaiste Micheal Martin said.

Martin also said he believed a speech by the president in Belfast earlier in the week could potentially help the political atmosphere in Northern Ireland, where power-sharing institutions are currently suspended.

In his remarks to the Irish parliament on Thursday, Biden said he believed the UK should work more closely with the Dublin administration to support Northern Ireland.

When asked about comments on the RTE Morning Ireland programme, Mr Martin said: “I take this as a general encouragement to all of us to work together.

“I am pleased with Prime Minister (Rishi) Sunak, (Northern Ireland Secretary) Chris Heaton-Harris, there is already a closer engagement as of late, which may be getting closer.

“I think the context was clear from the president, he was speaking in the context of all of us.

“Name the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Ireland.”

The Tanaiste added: “The Good Friday Agreement really hinges on the very close relationship between the British Government and the Irish Government.

“This is the anchor for peace, the anchor for future relationships.”

A number of events were held in Northern Ireland to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

Visit of President Biden to the island of Ireland

US President Joe Biden (left) with Tanaiste Micheal Martin (Brian Lawless/PA)

However, the Stormont Power Sharing Assembly, the cornerstone of the peace deal, remains suspended due to DUP concerns over post-Brexit trade deals.

During a speech in Belfast on Wednesday, Biden said he hoped institutions would return soon.

Mr Martin said: ‘I think your observations will be useful in terms of the atmosphere, in terms of the weeks and months ahead.

“I think it will have served a purpose, of that I have no doubt.”

He added: ‘I think the President has struck the right balance in terms of that speech, but also in terms of, we’re giving the DUP time and space in terms of analyzing the Windsor Agreement; but there are no immediate signs yet (of a return to power sharing in Stormont).

“But everyone, including the DUP, would recognize that the Windsor Agreement represents very significant progress.

“I think the people of Northern Ireland are turning back on institutions, of that I am clear, but I think the lesson we have all learned from experience is that it is better, as the President himself said, for the people of the north to right conclusion, get there yourself and make a decision.

“All sides are very eager to restore the institutions.”

Mr Martin also addressed comments earlier this week from former DUP leader Dame Arlene Foster that Joe Biden ‘hates’ the UK.

Mr Martin said: ‘I was very surprised by that comment.

“The only word you don’t associate with Joe Biden is the word hate.”

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