Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was wrong in setting conditions for a return to power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
The Unionist party, led by Jeffrey Donaldson, has insisted it will not form an executive until problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol are resolved.
Mr Martin said protocol, a post-Brexit deal to avoid controls on the island of Ireland, was not the dominant issue in the general election.
The election was won by Sinn Féin in a historic victory, with the party overtaking the DUP to become the first nationalist or republican party in Stormont to lead.
That means Michelle O’Neill, the leader of Sinn Féin Stormont, could become the first Nationalist or Republican first minister.
Mr Martin yesterday called on the DUP to form a power-sharing executive with the other parties in Northern Ireland.
“I think everyone should think about the results. This is a significant result,” said Mr. Martin. “All parties, with the exception of the Traditional Unionist Voice, focused on the bread-and-butter issues,” he said.
“I get the impression that the mandate they were given was to take their seats in the Assembly. This was an election fought on topical issues and so I think parties could lose if they don’t respond to what people were saying to them on the doorstep,” Mr Martin told RTÉ radio.
Mr Martin dismissed any suggestion of EU inflexibility over the protocol, which introduced new controls on trade from the UK.
Instead, he said there was a “landing zone” for a compromise between the two sides.
He said the Irish Government is doing everything it can to facilitate these discussions.
“I don’t think the UK government’s assessment is a fair assessment of the EU’s position.
“I think the European Union has been flexible, has shown flexibility, but every time the European Union has shown flexibility so far, it hasn’t been
replied. And that has made the EU more cautious in talks with the UK government.”
He said he believed an agreement could be reached between the UK and the EU on the protocol after the general election.
“I think the moment is now for both the EU and the UK,” he said. “The UK Government wants to see this through. Any further negative developments on this front will prove that Brexit is not going through.
“I think we all need to give due consideration now to stability in the North and the full functioning of the Good Friday Agreement institutions.”
The Sinn Féin victory in the north has fueled further speculation about the future constitutional position of Northern Ireland and whether a referendum on Irish unity could be held in the coming years.
However, Mr Martin dismissed such speculation, saying he was “amused” by it as it was not discussed during the campaign.
Emphasizing his own support for Irish unity, the Taoiseach said: “That was not the mandate sought
Sinn Féin in the last three weeks.
“The whole campaign was about cost of living, health and housing.
“The Border poll has been almost buried by its documentation and manifesto, and once the votes are tallied, it will be brought back into focus.”
He said he disagreed with calls for a citizens’ assembly on Irish unity.
“I don’t endorse that approach because I think the way you build bridges between North and South is that, above all, the political parties and members of parties, members of society in general, are getting more and more involved “, he said.
Mr Martin has launched a joint island initiative to develop cross-border links and he praised his own commitment to growing dialogue on the island while also criticizing Sinn Féin’s own preparation for each controversial border survey.
“What work have you done in this regard yourself? Where is Sinn Féin’s work on this?
“It’s pretty flimsy now in terms of substance.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/taoiseach-urges-dup-to-return-to-power-sharing-in-northern-ireland-41632940.html Taoiseach calls on DUP to return to power-sharing in Northern Ireland