Fianna Fáil Leader, Micheál Martin TD, has responded to news that Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will now meet with British Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and the First and Deputy First Ministers in Northern Ireland.

Deputy Martin commented, “The last forty days of unrest in Belfast and across the North have been a depressing and timely reminder of the need for the Irish and British Governments to take an active interest in nurturing and developing the peace process.

“Over the past year, I have been critical of the Irish Government’s hands-off approach to the North and the failure to keep the peace process at the centre of Government activity.  However, I am relieved that the Tánaiste will now take part in multilateral discussions about what has been taking place.

“I would call on Mr Gilmore to avoid taking a narrow approach to the recent flags disturbances.  While the flags violence has dominated the headlines, in my view it is a symptom of a much wider malaise in Northern Ireland rather than the core problem.

“The problem in the North is a wider failure of politics. The dominant parties in the Northern Executive have failed to demonstrate to Northern society that democratic politics works.  When politics is not about the economy and improving people’s standard of life, it reverts to being about parades, flags and division. 

“Unfortunately, anyone who has watched what has been happening in Northern Ireland over the last year will not have been surprised by the last forty days.  The Government must show some leadership and realise that the peace process needs to be about more than an absence of violence.”