Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheal Martin recalled the legacy of Catholic peacemaker John Hume as he said that the relationship between him and Prime Minister Boris Johnson would work “very warmly”.
Mr Johnson and Mr Martin recently met for the first time since the Fianna Fail leader was elected to the position in June.
“We look forward to a very warm engagement,” he said.
“It is important for us both in terms of the British-Irish relationship which has been the cornerstone of much progress on the island of Ireland and between our two countries for well over two to three decades, and we want to maintain that.
“It is challenging times ahead with Covid, Brexit, all of that.”
Mr Martin said it was particularly fitting the engagement was taking place so soon after the death of former SDLP leader John Hume, a key architect of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday peace agreement who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending 30 years of sectarian violence.
“We remember John at moments like this because he did so much to facilitate these kind of meetings and make them much more regular in the normal course of events,” he said.
Mr Johnson agreed that the meeting provided an appropriate moment to remember Mr Hume’s legacy as he looked towards developing a “friendship”.
“I had the honour of meeting the Taoiseach several year ago,” Mr Johnson said.
“I am very pleased to develop our friendship and relationship now.”
He added: “It’s great to see you Taoiseach, it’s great to be here in Northern Ireland and we look forward to developing our relationship in all sorts of ways – east-west, north-south, you name it.”
Picture: Prime Minister Boris Johnson (right) and Taoiseach Micheal Martin ahead of a meeting at Hillsborough Castle during the Prime Minister’s visit to Belfast. (Brian Lawless/PA).