Taoiseach admits ‘strained’ Johnson relations, Sinn Féin says he will ‘not be missed’

The Taoiseach used Boris Johnson’s resignation to call on the British government to pull away from its unilateral action over the Northern Ireland Protocol
Taoiseach admits ‘strained’ Johnson relations, Sinn Féin says he will ‘not be missed’

Sarah Mooney, Vivienne Clarke

The resignation of British prime minister Boris Johnson has led Taoiseach Micheál Martin to admit “strained” relations with his government, while the leader of largest opposition party Sinn Féin said he will “not be missed”.

The Taoiseach used Mr Johnson’s resignation to call on the British government to pull away from its unilateral action over the Northern Ireland Protocol, saying he remained committed to working with the British government in the future.

“Prime minister Johnson has led the British government during an especially challenging period, including dealing with the impact of Covid-19 and the response to the war on Ukraine,” Mr Martin said in a statement.

“From a personal perspective, I am conscious that he has been through a difficult few weeks and I extend my best wishes to him and his family for the future, following the announcement of his resignation.

“Britain is Ireland’s closest neighbour and the relationships between our two countries are long, deep and enduring.

“Our two governments working in close partnership is a key underpinning for peace and prosperity on these islands.

The relationship between our governments has been strained and challenged in recent times

“While prime minister Johnson and I engaged actively together, we didn’t always agree, and the relationship between our governments has been strained and challenged in recent times.

“Our joint responsibilities concerning stewardship of the Good Friday Agreement, as well as nurturing broader bilateral relations between us, require us to work together in a spirit of respect, trust and partnership.

“That is more important than ever today and I would once again urge a pulling back from unilateral action, whether that be on dealing with the legacy of the past, human rights, or the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“We have now an opportunity to return to the true spirit of partnership and mutual respect that is needed to underpin the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.”

‘Wholly negative’

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald meanwhile said that Mr Johnson’s interactions with Ireland had been “wholly negative”, adding he will “not be missed”.

“Under his leadership we have seen an attack on the Good Friday Agreement, threat after threat to break international law,” Ms McDonald said in Dublin.

“Boris Johnson’s government brought austerity to the people of the North of Ireland and, of course, he championed and brought Brexit, the disaster that is Brexit, to all of us.

“It needs to be stated clearly that whoever succeeds Boris Johnson as prime minister needs to change direction and change tact.

“We need the (Northern Ireland) Assembly and the Executive established without delay.

“We need a government that delivers for people and we need it very quickly, we are in the grip of a cost-of-living crisis.

“We need a British government that respects international law, fulfils its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement and understands, without any shadow of a doubt, that Ireland will not be the collateral for the Tory Brexit.

“Boris Johnson’s interactions with Ireland have been wholly negative and he will not be missed.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said the Irish Government “stands ready” to work with a new British prime minister.

He tweeted: “The Irish government stands ready to work with a new UK PM on protecting our shared achievements in the peace process and our shared responsibility under international law on Brexit.

“Let’s start with getting a government in Stormont. I wish Boris Johnson and his family well.”

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