International law expert Professor Alan Boyle says Derry ‘peaceful, jolly and calm’ due to GFA

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An expert in international law has spoken of how Derry is now ‘peaceful, jolly, quiet and calm’ as a result of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

Professor Alan Boyle, a barrister and emeritus professor of at Edinburgh Law School, made the comments at a briefing of the NI Affairs Committee.

The lawyer, who is originally from the north, told the committee he does not believe the NI Protocol Bill violates international law or the Protocol in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed between the UK and the EU.

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He said the British Government would be justified in seeking derogations from the Protocol using Article 16 in order to safeguard the GFA.

Professor Alan BoyleProfessor Alan Boyle
Professor Alan Boyle

Prof. Boyle was asked for his view of the British Government’s argument that it was introducing the NIPB because the GFA was of ‘primordial significance’.

He replied: “If you asked somebody who grew up in Belfast whether it is of primordial importance, you would get a very large yes. The Belfast Agreement has brought peace to the place. I was there two weeks ago and in Derry. It is like going back to when I was in short trousers. It was peaceful, jolly, quiet and calm.”

Prof. Boyle said he did not believe the bill broke international law as under Article 16 either party is permitted to take ‘appropriate safeguard measures’ if the Protocol leads to ‘serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist’.

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“In the Protocol itself, you can read the preamble. What is the purpose of the Protocol? One of the purposes is to protect the Belfast Agreement. What does the Belfast Agreement do? It creates power-sharing. In my view, derogations that are carefully focused under Article 16 for the purpose of restoring power sharing are lawful, legitimate and entirely consistent with the Protocol.”

Willie Hay cites Tony Blair in opposition to ‘bad deal’ Protocol ‘undermining’ GFAThe leading lawyer rejected the arguments of those who have claimed the NIPB is damaging Britain’s international reputation.

“I would respectfully ask you and suggest that maybe our invasion of Iraq, in violation of the UN charter, has done vastly more damage to our reputation. We no longer have a British judge on the International Court, for the first time in 100 years, because of Iraq and because of the Chagos archipelago. In both those cases, we are violating the UN charter and we have lost friends and allies in Africa and Asia. We lose votes in the General Assembly now because of it. That has done far more damage. One reason there are so few Scottish Labour MPs in this House is because of the Iraq conflict. It was very unpopular in Scotland.

“That is why we nearly lost the referendum. So is this about our reputation for treaty compliance? No. Talk to anybody else; we do not have that reputation. If I were to make that proposition in a conference of international lawyers, and I was at one last week in Lisbon, people would laugh at me. That is how embarrassing it is. I hate saying that because I am proudly British.”

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