Taoiseach ‘didn’t think twice’ about visiting Northern Ireland after security scare
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he had no hesitation in coming to Northern Ireland a week after a security alert cut short a visit to Belfast by Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney.
Mr Martin said he was heartened by the cross-community condemnation of the alert at a peace event last week.
He is visiting Derry where he is carrying out a number of engagements.
He is due to deliver a speech to the Hume Foundation at the city’s Playhouse Theater later.
Last Friday, Mr Coveney had to abandon a speech at the Hume Foundation in Belfast following a security alert when a van driver was threatened by two gunmen and a bomb prank was placed in the vehicle.
Police have linked loyalist paramilitaries to the incident.
Mr Martin condemned the incident when he spoke to the media in Derry.
He said: ‘The violence that has been imposed on this gentleman, to be compelled at gunpoint to make this harrowing journey, the vast majority of the people of this island, who respect political views, would abhor a such act.
“We thought these actions were consigned to history.
“I have been encouraged by the cross-community unit in condemning this incident.
“We should never be afraid of speech, of dialogue, and in many ways the John and Pat Hume Foundation remembers a man and a woman who, above and beyond anything else, stood for virtue dialogue and the need to keep talking.”
Mr Martin added: “As Taoiseach, I have been engaged with all perspectives in Northern Ireland, regardless of people’s position.
“I will continue to meet everyone in the spirit of cooperation and striving for more harmony and progress.
“Democracy must always triumph, we will always follow the advice of the PSNI and An Garda Siochana, and societies must have the freedom to engage, discuss and reflect and that is essential.
“We know on a much larger scale what can happen.
“We have a war in Ukraine that stems from authoritarianism against democracy, stems from a fear of democracy and a fear of dialogues, that’s where Russia is.”
“I didn’t think twice about it”
Mr Martin said he ‘didn’t think twice’ about coming to Derry after the security alert.
He said: “It was planned long before this.
“I was invited by the North West Partnership Program and I am very impressed with the way they operate.
“They asked me to come here and talk about potential support for the future and ideas we can learn from the group.”
Mr. Martin’s address to the Hume Foundation will focus on building common ground between north and south.
The Taoiseach also met with business leaders from across the city and visited Ulster University’s Magee campus to discuss cross-border research projects.
The research projects are funded by the Irish Government’s Shared Islands initiative.
He also visited Altnagelvin Hospital, where the Irish government partly funds cross-border cancer services.