Taoiseach to travel to UK for meeting with Johnson on tensions in North

ireland
Taoiseach To Travel To Uk For Meeting With Johnson On Tensions In North
Tensions in the North over the Northern Ireland Protocol will be the main topic of discussion.
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Taoiseach Micheál Martin will travel to the UK for a meeting with British prime minister Boris Johnson on Friday.

The meeting will take place at Chequers, the prime minister's country residence, according to The Irish Times.

Tensions in the North over the Northern Ireland Protocol will be the main topic of discussion, it is understood.

Unionist and loyalist unrest over the protocol surrounding the EU-UK withdrawal treaty has led to pockets of violence recently.

British Irish issues

Other British-Irish issues will also be discussed, The Irish Times reports.

Tensions in unionism over the protocol were a big part of internal criticism of DUP party leader and the North's First Minister Arlene Foster.

Ms Foster subsequently announced her resignation, with her successor set to be chosen on Friday.

Both leadership candidates, Edwin Poots and Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, have said they will not operate the protocol, though it remains part of British law.

“Third party apology.”

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Meanwhile, the son of an innocent man killed by soldiers in Ballymurphy 50 years ago has rejected a “third party apology” from Boris Johnson.

John Teggart queried why the British prime minister did not make a public apology.

A Downing Street spokesman said that in a conversation with the North's First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill, Mr Johnson “apologised unreservedly on behalf of the UK Government”.

However the apology was not referenced in either DUP or Sinn Féin statements following the virtual meeting which focused on coronavirus.

In a statement a Sinn Féin spokesperson said Ms O’Neill challenged Mr Johnson to apologise to the Ballymurphy families.

They said she was told that Secretary of State Brandon Lewis was intending to make a statement around Ballymurphy at Westminster on Thursday.

“Michelle O’Neill put it to Boris Johnson that he should apologise to the families of those killed in Ballymurphy by British state forces,” they said.

On Tuesday, Coroner Mrs Justice Keegan found that 10 people killed in Ballymurphy in August 1971 were “entirely innocent”.

She found that nine of the 10 had been killed by soldiers, and found that the use of lethal force was not justified.

Mrs Justice Keegan also criticised the lack of investigation into the 10th death, that of John McKerr, and said she could not definitively rule who had shot him.

The Downing Street spokesman said Mr Johnson said the conclusions of the Ballymurphy Inquest were “deeply sad and that the events of August 1971 were tragic”.

“The Prime Minister apologised unreservedly on behalf of the UK Government for the events that took place in Ballymurphy and the huge anguish that the lengthy pursuit of truth has caused the families of those killed.”

Mr Teggart said it is an “insult to the families” that Mr Johnson’s apology came in a conversation with others.

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“The apology was to third parties, it wasn’t to the Ballymurphy families,” he told the BBC.

“It’s not a public apology … what kind of insult is it to families that he couldn’t have the conversation with ourselves. His office couldn’t come and speak to the families of what he was doing.

“That’s not acceptable to the families and never will be. This is not an apology to us.”

Additional reporting from Press Association 

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