Ireland concerned at continuing instability in UK, Taoiseach says in wake of Truss resignation

Mary Lou McDonald says Truss’ legacy will be ‘wrecking the economy and working in the interests of the super-rich’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said that the Government is concerned at continuing political instability in the UK, but hopes a successor to Liz Truss can be elected soon and that he will have an early engagement with them about Northern Ireland.

Mr Martin said that “on a personal level”, he sympathised with Ms Truss, but said that as Britain’s closest neighbour Ireland wanted to see “stability” in the UK, and that he hoped that a successor could be selected as soon as possible.

“It’s a matter for Britain and for the British political system, but stability is important during these times when a major war is underway on the continent of Europe,” Mr Martin told journalists in Brussels as he entered the venue for the first day of a two-day summit of EU leaders.

He said that he hoped that problems with the Northern Ireland protocol could be quickly resolved with a new administration.


“Whoever becomes the new British prime minister we would hope, given all that’s going on in Europe and the world, that a meaningful discussion would take place with the European Union to resolve the issues. There is a window of opportunity to do this,” he said.

But Mr Martin admitted there was a “very strong likelihood” that the Stormont institutions would not be restored by the end of the month and added that there would be an “urgent need” to have discussions with the new prime minister “in relation to Northern Ireland and ensuring stability and continuity there also”.

“We’re very close neighbours with the United Kingdom, economically we’re very close and many Irish companies have a significant presence in the British market ... so it’s very important for Ireland that political stability is restored to the United Kingdom,” he said.

Asked if Brexit was the source of continuing British difficulties, Mr Martin said that he always though Britain had made the wrong decision, but as a democrat he accepted it.

“Issues have flowed from that decision. Many issues had not been thought through in respect of what was essentially a political decision with huge economic and market implications that are still feeding through into the economic system. But that’s a matter for the British political system, British political parties to deal with now.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said the resignation of Ms Truss came after “45 days of chaos and dysfunction at the heart of the Tory Party.”

These 45 days, she said, “worsened an economic crisis and fuelled political instability in the north, while punishing ordinary workers and families who are struggling to heat their homes and put food on the table.”

She said that time period also “laid bare the damage that Brexit has caused Britain politically on the international stage and which has deepened the conversation on constitutional change.”

“This is a rudderless Tory government which has no mandate in Ireland.”

The Sinn Féin leader said that Liz Truss’s legacy will be “soaring mortgage payments, wrecking the economy, lifting the cap on bankers’ bonuses and working in the interests of the super-rich. Only a locally elected Executive and Ministers working together will properly serve the interests of people here.”

It comes as the Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton Harris again warned that he will call an election in Northern Ireland if powersharing is not restored by October 28th.

Ms McDonald said “the clock is ticking” with just eight days left before this deadline.

“Sinn Féin is ready to form an Executive today that will put money in people’s pockets to deal with the cost-of-living crisis and start to fix the health service.

“The new British Prime Minister needs to ensure that the Protocol continues to create jobs and investment by protecting our businesses from the damage of Brexit.

“The DUP must now end its boycott of government and work with the rest of us to protect ordinary people from the damage caused by this inept and incompetent British government.”

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney said he hoped Britain would “elect a leader [Ireland] can negotiate with over time and that doesn’t result in the chaotic politics we’ve seen over the last few weeks, at an important time for Ireland and Northern Ireland”.

Speaking on RTÉ, the Minister said an “unfortunate” consequence of Truss’ resignation was “more uncertainty for Northern Ireland”.

“We’re trying to get complex issues negotiated in a very heated political environment. From an Irish perspective, this isn’t about personalities, it’s about stability and having a partner to negotiate with,” he said.

Minister Coveney said he thought it was “possible” that an election could be avoided in Northern Ireland “if the DUP decided that”.

“There is no functioning British government in the next week... so, what the DUP are asking for now is something we know can’t be delivered and yet an election is going to be called on the back of that ask, and surely that’s not a reasonable position.”

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson

Jade Wilson is a reporter for The Irish Times