Taoiseach 'did not think twice' about Northern Ireland visit after Coveney alert

The Taoiseach says he "did not think twice" about coming to Northern Ireland this week, after a visit by the Irish foreign affairs minister was disrupted by a security alert last Friday.

Micheal Martin has spent the day carrying out engagements in Londonderry.

He said he was heartened by the cross-community condemnation of the alert which unfolded at a peace event during Simon Coveney's visit last week.

"As Taoiseach I have been engaged with all perspectives in Northern Ireland, irrespective of people's position," said Mr Martin.

"I will continue to meet everyone in a spirit of cooperation, and endeavouring to have greater harmony and progress.

"Democracy must always triumph, we will always take advice from the PSNI and An Garda Siochana, and societies must have the freedom to engage, to discuss, and to reflect and that is critically."

Mr Martin later delivered a speech at the Hume Foundation in Derry city's Playhouse theatre on Friday evening.

Ahead of the event, home owners affected by the mica defective bricks scandal staged a protest outside the theatre with placards calling for 100% redress.

The Taoiseach's address to the Hume Foundation focused on building common ground between north and south.

But he said the outworkings of Brexit continue to "bedevil" politics in Northern Ireland.

"I welcome that last week's incident, and the attack on Doug Beattie's office this week, have been condemned by political leaders from all communities, making clear that no purpose is served and nobody is represented by violence or a threat of violence," said Mr Martin.

"My government listens carefully to the concerns of all communities in Northern Ireland."

Earlier Mr Martin met business leaders in the city and visited Ulster University's Magee campus to discuss cross-border research projects.

The research projects are funded through the Irish government's shared island initiative.

He also visited Altnagelvin Hospital, where the Irish government has part-funded cross-border cancer services.