“Devolution needs to bed in and then we see what happens from there.”

Following the recently reported comments from un-named senior Irish government sources by Stephen Dempster in the Newsletter, the Irish Times today reports the clarification from an un-named spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs – who has pointed to the Taoiseach’s speech at Westminster Hall in May. The reality is that there is no contradiction between the two reported positions of the adept navigator’s government.The Newsletter reported

Senior Irish sources said: “Devolution needs to bed in and then we see what happens from there.

“There is no appetite or plans in Dublin to get into an Irish unity debate in five years time or anything like that.

“The north has come through difficult times and much upheaval and the view in Dublin and London is that it now needs to settle down and develop as a region of these islands.

“Unionists are secure in knowing that under the Good Friday Agreement that is within the United Kingdom.

“While nationalists can feel secure that they have a place in government and the north has stronger ties with the south and new working relationships.”

One of the sources said: “I do not believe there will be any significant constitutional debates for 20 to 25 years. The new arrangements need that long to bed in and create a new arrangement.”

While, as the Irish Times report notes

The spokesman said that the Government’s position had been clearly outlined by the Taoiseach in his Westminster speech last May when he had said that “As an Irish republican, it is my passionate hope that we will see the island of Ireland united in peace.”

Mr Ahern added in his speech that “the Good Friday agreement is an unchallengeable consensus on how any future change in the status of Northern Ireland will be effected: only with consent freely given, and with full respect for the rights of all traditions and identities on the island”.