Later, negotiations between Stormont parties and political leaders from Dublin and London would address efforts to settle the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute.
Leo Varadkar, the Taoiseach (Irish PM), will meet with representatives of the biggest parties in Belfast.
Since resuming his duties as taoiseach in December, this will be his first trip to Northern Ireland.
Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of Labour, is meeting with parties in Stormont.
In the meanwhile, a number of engagements in Northern Ireland will be carried out by the tánaiste (Irish deputy prime minister) and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin, including a meeting with NI Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris at Hillsborough.
However, according to DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, more work has to be done before the EU and UK government can agree on a protocol.
It comes after a Wednesday meeting in Belfast with Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.
While certain technical challenges have seen some improvement at the present, he said on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster that there are still significant political concerns in the discussions that have not been resolved.
I don’t believe a deal is in the works.
A little over a year ago, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) removed its first minister from office, leading to the collapse of Stormont’s power-sharing government.
Why is the procedure causing a controversy?
The protocol, which is a component of the UK’s Brexit agreement with the EU, maintains Northern Ireland in line with the EU’s single market for goods after Brexit, preventing the need for a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.
But it also establishes a new economic border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, which the EU acknowledges is problematic for many companies.
The protocol is supported by the majority of members of the Stormont Assembly, although some unionists believe it jeopardizes Northern Ireland’s standing within the UK.
The Northern Ireland Protocol line explained simply
The UK government has said that the protocol is ineffective and that if the EU does not agree to revisions, it will largely supersede the accord.
The government gave the parties in Stormont until January 19 to create a power-sharing executive.
However, the DUP has said that it won’t unless the procedure has undergone considerable revisions.
Since it is extremely doubtful that the deadline will be fulfilled next week, Mr. Heaton-Harris is anticipated to start a new three-month term so that the protocol discussions may proceed.
Sir Jeffrey said that finding a solution that satisfied everyone was the only way to get beyond the protocol problem before the Thursday discussions.
In the end, he stated, “we recognize that cross-community consensus is the only thing that works in Northern Ireland that produces the type of political stability that we need for the properly functioning democratic institutions.”
Because of this, it’s crucial that any accord come to have the backing of both unionists and nationalists.