The priority should be on mending relations in Northern Ireland and not planning for a border election, the Foreign Affairs Minister has said.
Simon Coveney said there was a “huge problem” with trust in the region and work needed first to “fix” the Brexit protocol issue and ensure Stormont institutions were working.
“The focus in Northern Ireland at the moment has to be on the relationship,” Mr Coveney told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.
“We have a new British Prime Minister. We have a new Secretary of State. We have a new Deputy Secretary of State, if you like, a new Foreign Secretary in Britain.
“We have a lot of work to do in terms of trying to resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol issue.
“We need to listen to everyone in Northern Ireland, along with unionism, and we need to try to make sure that the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement work again because they have not worked for some time. .”
Mr Coveney’s comments came after census figures showed Catholics outnumbered Protestants in Northern Ireland for the first time since the island’s partition.
Census 2021 figures published on Thursday show that 45.7 percent of the region’s population said they were Catholic or were raised Catholic.
Mr Coveney said no one involved in Northern Ireland politics was “surprised by the result of that census at how things are changing”.
Census shows ‘historic and irreversible change’…
Asked about the timing of a potential border poll, he said: “The priority at the moment is to rework the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Next year, we will mark 25 years since the Good Friday Agreement was agreed. Of course, we need to plan for potential change in the future, and we need to respect different perspectives on what that change might look like, but if we can’t build relationships, it’s hard to plan for it in a way. It is fully inclusive.”
“At the moment in Northern Ireland, there is a big problem with trust between the different political parties and between the parties and the two governments. And those relationships need to be mended. And then, we need to plan for the future. “