LONDON, Aug 12 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Boris Johnson will visit Northern Ireland on Thursday to talk up the strength of union between Britain’s constituent countries and promise a strong rebound from the coronavirus crisis.
Johnson will likewise meet Ireland’s new prime minister Micheál Martin for the very first time because the formation of a new Irish union federal government in June.
On his first see to Northern Ireland given that the COVID-19 pandemic, Johnson wishes to tighten ties terribly strained by several years of acrimonious Brexit negotiations.
” As the nation starts to get back on its feet in the wake of coronavirus, we can not simply aim to restore, but we need to commit to constructing back stronger than ever,” he said in a statement.
His message echoes that made on a similar trip to Scotland, where polls show support for self-reliance now outstrips that for remaining part of the union.
Northern Ireland’s views on leaving the United Kingdom are still mostly divided along sectarian lines with numerous Catholics favouring the development of a joined Ireland while pro-British Protestants favour the status quo.
The dispute fuelled 3 years of bloodshed that mainly ended with a 1998 peace offer.
Northern Ireland voted 56 to 44%to remain in the European Union in a 2016 Brexit referendum, when the UK as a whole voted 52 to 48 to leave.
That angered Irish nationalists, who feared they would be cut off from friends and family members in the Republic of Ireland, among the EU’s a lot of passionate members – triggering some to require a referendum on leaving the United Kingdom.
The subsequent Brexit settlements in turn outraged pro-British unionists who were outraged at Johnson’s choice to concur a Brexit deal that will see EU customs rates and guidelines remain in place Northern Ireland while the rest of Britain goes its own method. (Reporting by William James in London and Conor Humphries in Dublin; editing by Stephen Addison)
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