Friday 20 September 2019

Taking Northern Ireland out of EU will destroy Good Friday Agreement, Adams

Handout photo issued by Sinn Fein of Michelle O'Neill and Gerry Adams at a SF conference on Irish Unity at Dublin's Mansion House. Photo: Sinn Fein/PA Wire
Handout photo issued by Sinn Fein of Michelle O'Neill and Gerry Adams at a SF conference on Irish Unity at Dublin's Mansion House. Photo: Sinn Fein/PA Wire

Mark O'Regan

Taking Northern Ireland out of the EU against the wishes of the electorate is a “hostile action” and will “destroy” the Good Friday Agreement, Gerry Adams has warned.

The Sinn Féin President claimed fundamental human rights enshrined in the 1998 accord to end violence could be undermined.

Mr Adams said Northern Ireland should enjoy special status within the union of 27 states after Brexit - and claimed that would not affect the constitutional settlement which secures its status as part of the UK.

He insisted taking the North out of the EU will have consequences. “It will destroy the Good Friday Agreement,” he stressed.

“The British government’s intention to take the North out of the EU, despite the wish of the people there to remain, is a hostile action. Not just because of the implications of a hard border on this island, but also because of its negative impact on the Good Friday Agreement.

“The British Prime Minister repeated her intention to bring an end to the jurisdiction of the European Court.

“Along with her commitment to remove Britain from the European Convention on Human Rights, this stand threatens to undermine the fundamental human rights elements of the Good Friday Agreement.”

He claimed ending partition between Northern Ireland and the Republic had taken on a new importance.

“As the dire economic implications of Brexit take shape there is an opportunity to promote a new agreed Ireland.”

In the Brexit referendum Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU by a majority of 56pc to 44pc.

“The dangers of a hard Brexit are now more obvious than before. The North needs a special designated status within the EU,” said the Sinn Fein leader. The Irish government needs to adopt this as a strategic objective in its negotiations within the EU 27 as they negotiate with the British Prime Minister.”

He claimed there was no strategic plan from the Irish Government. For its part the Government has already convened an all-Ireland forum on Brexit - and agreed with British Prime Minister Theresa May that there should be no return to the borders of the past. Ministers stress its priorities are focused on economic and trading arrangements, the peace process and border issues, as well as the common travel area.

Mr Adams added: “The British position also fails to take account of the fact that citizens in the North, under the Agreement, have a right to Irish citizenship and therefore EU citizenship.”

The Louth TD stressed the “preferred option” of many unionists and nationalists is to remain within the EU.

“The speech by Theresa May will have reinforced this.

“The citizens of England and Wales voted to leave the EU. The people of Scotland and of the North voted to remain.”

Speaking at a special conference on achieving a united Ireland in Dublin’s Mansion House, he said there are a number of “immediate challenges” facing those who want a united independent Ireland.

These include getting the Irish government to change its policy from one of “acquiescing to the union” with Britain to one of becoming a “persuader” for Irish unity

The discussion - marking the 98th anniversary of the meeting of the First Dáil in the same building in 1919 - brought together a host of different groups and commentators to stimulate debate on how a future ‘United Ireland’ might look.

Online Editors

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