Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair have been working to bring both sides of the deadlocked Brexit situation back to the negotiating table, it has emerged.
Outgoing Minister of State for Northern Ireland Conor Burns thanked the couple in the House of Commons for their continued efforts to restore broken Dublin-London and EU-UK ties.
Mr Burns said he had met Mr Ahern in Dublin over the past few weeks and, after attending the British Irish Association conference last weekend, said he believed an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol could still be negotiated.
Speaking in the House of Commons, he said: “I am convinced that if the appetite is there, we can find a way towards a negotiated settlement on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“In the House today, Mr Speaker, I would like to record my gratitude to former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and former Prime Minister Tony Blair for their support in the work I did over the summer.”
The couple – who helped broker the Good Friday Agreement 24 years ago – want a reversal in EU-UK relations in the face of a cabinet reshuffle with Liz Truss as Prime Minister.
Mr Ahern will be the keynote speaker at an event in the European Parliament on Thursday morning, which is expected to be attended by all political parties from across Northern Ireland’s political spectrum.
The Renew Europe Roundtable, moderated by MEP Barry Andrews, will bring MEPs and MLAs together to discuss the future of Northern Ireland in a European context.
It is seen as a positive step that the DUP has agreed to send two MLAs to the event, as Mr Andrews will tell those present that EU-UK relations “remain strained”.
The event is expected to seek a way forward on the Northern Ireland Protocol Act passed at Westminster, as well as a resumption of the Stormont Executive to address the “significant uncertainty and instability” facing citizens and businesses in Northern Ireland .
Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney said his first meeting with new Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris today was “good”. He said they had “a lot of work to do together.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/bertie-ahern-tony-blair-working-behind-scenes-to-restore-eu-uk-relations-house-of-commons-hears-41969868.html Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair are working behind the scenes to restore EU-UK ties, the House of Commons hears