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Recent Disorder

Volume 692: debated on Wednesday 21 April 2021

What representations he has received from relevant stakeholders on the recent disorder in Northern Ireland. (914359)

I have been in close conversation with political and community leaders and the Police Service of Northern Ireland in response to recent events. Their unification in condemning the unrest has been a welcome sign that those engaged in the destruction and disorder that we saw do not represent Northern Ireland. We as a Government will continue to engage with stakeholders across the whole community in Northern Ireland to find solutions that work for everybody and to ensure that we are always clear that the right way to express concerns is through dialogue, engagement and the democratic process—never violence.

The Secretary of State is right: dialogue is important, as are inter-Government relations between the UK and Ireland. It is a vital part of upholding the Belfast/Good Friday agreement and managing tension that leads to disorder, so why has the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference never met under this Prime Minister, and why has the Prime Minister never chaired the British-Irish Council? Can he commit that he will chair the next meeting, whether it is in June or sooner, as it should be?

The British-Irish Council has never ceased to meet regularly and has always been chaired in the same way. The conversations are ongoing between ourselves and the Irish Government. Even over the last few weeks, whether that has been with Foreign Minister Simon Coveney or the Prime Minister talking to the Taoiseach, that engagement has been ongoing and will continue, because we are partners working together, with a long relationship—a positive relationship—that is of benefit to the people of the Republic of Ireland and the whole of the UK.