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Covid-19: Co-ordinated Response

Volume 677: debated on Wednesday 24 June 2020

What discussions he has had with representatives of the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government on co-ordinating the response to the covid-19 outbreak. (903600)

What discussions he has had with representatives of the Northern Ireland Executive on co-ordinating the response to the covid-19 outbreak. (903610)

Throughout the covid-19 outbreak, the UK Government have continued to meet regularly with the First Minister and the Deputy First Minister, as well as other Executive Ministers, to co-ordinate the response and, importantly, to take steps together towards a healthy and full economic recovery.

I am delighted to learn about the positive relationship that exists between the Northern Ireland Executive and the UK Government during this unprecedented crisis. Does my right hon. Friend agree that, as the Northern Ireland Executive face some critical challenges in the near future, the spirit of co-operation, which will benefit not only Northern Ireland but the whole of the United Kingdom, should continue?

My hon. Friend makes a very good point. It has been a really positive period of working together, across all the devolved parts of the United Kingdom, with the UK Government. I have had regular weekly meetings with both the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, apart from the wider Government meetings that they and their Ministers have been involved with. That is a positive sign of how we have been able to work together for the best interests of everybody in all communities in Northern Ireland. I hope that that will continue in the weeks, months and period ahead.

I also welcome the positive way in which the Northern Ireland Executive have worked with the UK Government during this crisis. Does my right hon. Friend share my hope that this positive spirit of co-operation continues?

Absolutely. There has been an absolute unity of purpose in dealing with covid over the period from all parts, and the relationships—east-west, and of the Republic of Ireland with Northern Ireland and the UK Government—have been very positive. We have worked together and met regularly and, as I say, I think that has been a positive sign for what we can achieve in the future.