Meeting to discuss shared areas of interest has taken place at Bute House.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed Michelle O’Neill MLA to Bute House today (Friday 20 May).
The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss shared areas of interest including the current cost of living crisis, the importance of the Northern Ireland Protocol negotiated with the EU and the prospects for the formation of a new Northern Ireland Executive.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Today’s meeting was an excellent opportunity to discuss some of the shared challenges Scotland and Northern Ireland face and I thank Michelle for reaching out and enabling us to discuss these extremely important issues in person.”
“It was a particularly timely conversation which provided an update on the ongoing developments around establishing the Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive following elections earlier this month.
“We also discussed the Northern Ireland protocol – most notably the extremely concerning announcement by the UK Government that they intend to legislate to enable unilateral action to dis-apply parts of the protocol – and the incredibly damaging effects this would have in communities right across the UK. In a cost of living crisis and teetering on the edge of recession, pitching us into a trade dispute with the EU could be what tips us over.
“Intergovernmental relations are essential when it comes to tackling shared challenges and it is clear that much more needs to be done by the UK Government to ensure a rapid and effective response to the devastating cost of living crisis facing households across these islands. No one should ever have to make a choice between heating and eating.
“Today’s meeting was a further example of the close relationship between Scotland and Northern Ireland. In that spirit, I have written today to the leaders of the DUP and Alliance parties with an offer to meet to discuss these important matters.”
The meeting was arranged at the request of Michelle O’Neill.
The First Minister today wrote to the other main political parties in Northern Ireland to make them aware of the meeting and offer a similar engagement, should they wish it.