Sunak calls for swift return of Stormont Assembly ahead of Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland


Rishi Sunak has called for a swift return of the Stormont Assembly ahead of President Biden’s visit to Northern Ireland.

“We must get on with the business of governance,” the prime minister said.

He will meet Joe Biden when the US president steps off of Air Force One on Tuesday evening – not long after his Windsor Framework passed through parliament.

UK and EU officials have since signed off on the new Brexit deal, despite opposition from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

It was the DUP’s objection to the previous Northern Ireland Protocol that prevented powersharing at Stormont from running.

Speaking 25 years on from the signing of the Good Friday agreement on 10 April 1998, the prime minister celebrated the “difficult decisions” taken and “political imagination” displayed to end the Troubles.

He added that there is a need to “recommit to redoubling our efforts” to deliver on the promise made when the deal was signed.

“We commemorate those who are no longer with us and the many who lost their lives by trying to prevent violence and protect the innocent,” Mr Sunak said.

“And we give thanks to them as we reflect on the new generations that have grown up and continue to grow in a world in which peace and prosperity has prevailed.

“While it is time to reflect on the solid progress we have made together, we must also recommit to redoubling our efforts on the promise made in 1998 and the agreements that followed.”

He said he was ready to work with partners in the Irish government and local parties to “ensure that the institutions are up and running again as soon as possible”.

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Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he would be “intensifying” talks with Mr Sunak in the weeks ahead to try to get Stormont operating again.

“We’re working towards having the institutions up and running in the next few months,” he told RTE’s This Week programme.

Twenty-five years after the agreement was signed, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Northern Ireland was standing at “another crossroads”.

“With political stalemate at Stormont and a period of difficult Anglo-Irish relations, we must use the spirit and the trust built by the architects of the Good Friday Agreement to push us forward to another 25 years of peace and prosperity,” he said.

There is the potential for dissident republicans to launch attacks on police officers in Londonderry/Derry on Easter Monday, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has warned.

MI5 recently raised the terrorism threat level in Northern Ireland to severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

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