GFA needs to feature in UK EU deal and North should have a get out clause: Durkan

Mark Durkan with James Brokenshire.
Mark Durkan with James Brokenshire.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan has urged British Prime Minister Theresa May to ensure the Good Friday Agreement is specifically named in any new negotiated settlement between the United Kingdom and the European Union but has been refused the guarantee at Westminster.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the SDLP MP asked Mrs. May directly: “Is it the Prime Minister’s intention that both the common travel area and the Good Friday Agreement will be specifically named as features in the framework for future relations between the UK and the EU?”

Mr. Durkan suggested that the North should also be allowed a fast-track route back into the European Union post-Brexit should a majority of voters here decide that they want to retain membership, notwithstanding the intentions of England, Scotland and Wales.

He said that the North should be allowed to jump the queue of Article 49 applicant states currently seeking membership.

Former European Commission President José Manuel Barroso famously insisted, in the lead up to the first independence referendum across the North Channel, that Scotland would have to go through a full renegotiation if it became independent of the United Kingdom.

“Does she accept the Taoiseach’s point about the signal importance of having the consent provisions of the Good Friday Agreement specifically reflected in a new UK-EU treaty to make it clear that Northern Ireland, as one part of the UK, could elect to rejoin the EU without necessitating article 49 negotiations and that the Barroso doctrine would not be an impediment?” asked Mr. Durkan.

Mrs. May, however, refused to give any guarantees on the Good Friday Agreement or a short cut back into Europe for the North.

“We have been very clear about the importance of maintaining and delivering on the agreements that have been made in relation to Northern Ireland, and that issue is very clear to other member states of the European Union,” said Mrs. May.

She again referred to the common travel area between the North and South, saying she wanted to make sure that this was not affected.

“Of course the common travel area existed long before either the Republic or the United Kingdom were part of the European Union, and one of the objectives I set out as we look to the future negotiations is that we will be looking to maintain the common travel area,” she said.