Tuesday 25 September 2018

Why I think the Good Friday Agreement needs to be fixed

Despite the fuss, my criticisms of the Belfast Agreement have nothing to do with Brexit, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble Picture: PA
Former Northern Ireland First Minister David Trimble Picture: PA
Ruth Dudley Edwards

Ruth Dudley Edwards

Last week an article of mine in The Daily Telegraph sparked off a big row between Brexiteers and Remainers over the Irish dimension. With the headline 'The collapse of power-sharing in Northern Ireland shows the Good Friday Agreement has outlived its use', it was retweeted by many others, enthusiastic Brexiteers like Conservatives ex-Secretary of State Owen Paterson and MEP Dan Hannan, and Labour MP Kate Hoey.

These attracted outpourings of abuse and hysteria about how this was a grossly irresponsible attack which threatened peace by sacrificing a sacred agreement that stood in the way of a hard Brexit.

In Ireland we can't even reach a consensus on what the damn agreement is called - you say Belfast; I say Good Friday - and the British couldn't care less, so it's hardly surprising that unionists and nationalists differ about what's in it. As the MEP Dan Hannan pointed out during last week, the "quasi-religious" terminology is significant. Nationalists appear to think it is Holy Writ, as do any of the messianic Blairites who were involved with it.

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