Boris Johnson's election as British prime minister raises “enormous fears” for UK-Irish relations and he has to "catch up" on the North, Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin warned.
In a speech for the MacGill Summer School tonight, he also raised serious questions about Mr Johnson's understanding about Brexit, ahead of the conservative leader becoming prime minister tomorrow. He said:
“The accession of Boris Johnson to Downing Street quite rightly raises enormous fears for the future of relations between the governments and also London’s policy towards Northern Ireland.
“Anyone in Dublin who met him during his time as Foreign Secretary will tell you the many ways in which he failed to show the slightest level of understanding about the operations of the Good Friday Agreement or the deep problems raised by Brexit.
“It is clear that he is single-minded in his ambition, but I don’t think anyone can credibly say that he has thought through how to promote prosperity and reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
“And to be honest no one really seems to know what his beliefs are in relation to Brexit other than wanting to raise the flag of victory at Halloween.”
Speaking separately to reporters, Mr Martin said Mr Johnson had to “catch up” on the North and Brexit. He also hopes the new British leader had the ability to shift political positions.
I note from Boris Johnson's student days right through to Mayor of London that he has had a capacity to change to adapt to move to the centre-ground when required. And one hopes that that capacity to adapt will materialise now in the coming weeks in terms of the Brexit issue.
“He has consistently, in my view, understated the impact of Brexit on North/South relations and on the island of Ireland.
“So I think he needs to bring himself up to date very quickly in terms of what is required actually to sustain the sets of relationships on this island.”