DUBLIN—In response to the results of the Northern Ireland assembly elections, Irish and British prime ministers Enda Kenny and Theresa May on Sunday discussed the reestablishment of the Northern Ireland Executive.
In a phone conversation that lasted 15 minutes, the two prime ministers agreed that early engagement by the political parties in Northern Ireland is now required with a view to reestablishing a functioning executive as soon as possible, and to addressing outstanding issues under the agreements, according to a statement from the Irish government.
The Northern Ireland Executive is the administrative branch of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the devolved legislature for Northern Ireland. It consists of the first minister and deputy first minister and various ministers with individual portfolios and remits.
The government statement said the two also agreed that Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charles Flanagan and Britain’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire would engage together with the parties over the coming days.
Both Kenny and May agreed to stay in close contact, noting that they would see each other in Brussels on Thursday at the European Council, according to the statement.
In Thursday’s assembly elections, the unionists emerged for the first time ever without a majority, with the pro-republican Sinn Fein making massive gains. Sinn Fein reduced the margin to just one seat, winning 27 assembly seats, just one less than the 28 won by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The DUP leader Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein’s new leader Michelle O’Neill now have three weeks to establish a government.
Under Northern Ireland’s power-sharing agreement, the government must be run by Irish nationalists and unionists together.
If they fail to establish a working government in Northern Ireland, Brokenshire has the power to call another snap election, or introduce direct rule of the region from Westminster.