Taoiseach – PM Johnson should financially support NI’s Covid-19 measures

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin has urged the UK Prime Minister to financially support Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 restrictions.

He discussed the rising numbers of cases on both sides of the Irish border with Boris Johnson on Thursday morning.

He said: “I made a very strong point to the British Prime Minister this morning that the situation is very, very worrying in terms of the growing numbers in Northern Ireland and that they needed support, that the Northern Ireland Executive needed support, and that if he could give consideration in terms of financial support to underpin any efforts or any restrictions that they themselves might decide to bring in.”

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits UK
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (Aaron Chown/PA)

He said the two leaders did not discuss introducing an island-wide “circuit breaker” short-term tightening of restrictions.

“The UK has its own issues and challenges in relation to regional approaches that it is adopting to the Coved situation,” he added.

He said: “It was really around the idea of supporting the North in whatever measures the First Minister and Deputy First Minister might decide to take and highlighting the concerns about the growing numbers in the North and the need for coordination. But also critically also supports.”

The Prime Minister recently told the BBC he will provide extra resources to help the Stormont executive fight a second wave of coronavirus.

He said he will work with First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill if they opt for a so-called “circuit breaker”.

This is a limited lockdown over a number of weeks to try and stem rising numbers of cases.

Mrs Foster and Ms O’Neill have also called on Mr Johnson to provided added financial support if a further lockdown is required in the region.

Coronavirus – Mon Sep 21, 2020
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said she welcomed the Taoiseach’s intervention (Presseye/PA)

“He obviously recognises the precarious situation that we find ourselves in,” said Ms O’Neill.

“We are as concerned. And I think it’s important that we get the call that we’ve asked for with Boris Johnson around financial supports.”

She added: “I welcome the fact the Taoiseach has picked up the phone and that he is speaking to Boris Johnson. I’ve always thought that we needed an all-island approach and I think we need strong all-Ireland coordination. I also think we need that coordination east-west also.

“Nobody’s immune here, we’re all facing this very, very difficult situation but no doubt we here in the north seem to be in a worse situation right now and we’re looking towards toward the British government for support to help us, financial support to help us deal with the situation that we’re facing right now and I welcome the Taoiseach’s intervention.”

Mrs Foster added: “I understand the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach were talking about wider issues around Covid, it’s not surprising that there would be a conversation about the rise in cases in Northern Ireland.

“The Prime Minister I’m sure will want to ensure that we in Northern Ireland are in a place where we can deal with Covid-19 and we have requested a conversation with him which hopefully will take place in the near future.”

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