Important for North that Truss does well as PM, says Ahern

Incoming British prime minister will leave Northern Ireland to new secretary of state, former taoiseach predicts

Former taoiseach Bertie Ahern has said it was important for Northern Ireland that Liz Truss does well as prime minister.

However, he predicted Ms Truss will be “so busy” with the war in Ukraine, the cost of living crisis, the NHS and rising energy prices that she will leave Northern Ireland to the new secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

Whoever is appointed as foreign secretary and secretary of state for Northern Ireland will be “absolutely crucial”, Mr Ahern told Newstalk Breakfast.

It was inevitable there would be “one more try” for a negotiated or diplomatic solution to the Northern Ireland protocol. If there was a negotiated settlement it would mean the Northern Ireland Executive could open up, Mr Ahern said, adding: “There is one chance left at this.”


The key issue would be the internal UK market position, but this was “solvable” he said.

While he did not know Ms Truss personally, Mr Ahern said she appeared to be a person who takes the hard line on an issue but could change her mind. “She has a hell of an agenda on her table,” he said.

The confirmation of Ms Truss as the UK’s next prime minister is an opportunity to “reset” the post-Brexit relationship between Britain and Ireland, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Monday.

There is an expectation in Government Buildings that Mr Martin and Ms Truss will speak by phone in the coming days after she is officially in place in 10 Downing Street.

Mr Martin expressed hope that negotiations on resolving the dispute over the Brexit agreement’s Northern Ireland protocol can resume while also playing down suggestions that Ms Truss’s victory was the worst result for Ireland.

The Taoiseach congratulated Ms Truss and said: “I see this as an opportunity to reset relationships between Great Britain and Ireland post-Brexit and also between the European Union and the United Kingdom.”

Ms Truss succeeds Boris Johnson as prime minister on Tuesday, becoming the third woman to enter Downing Street, following her election as Conservative party leader.

Ms Truss will meet Queen Elizabeth at Balmoral Castle in Scotland before she makes a statement in Downing Street on Tuesday afternoon. She is expected to announce her full cabinet on Tuesday evening

Vivienne Clarke

Vivienne Clarke is a reporter

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn is a Political Correspondent at The Irish Times