Sinn Féin MLA Raymond McCartney has issued a severe warning to the British Prime Minister Theresa May, saying that in pursuing Brexit oblivious to the concerns of the people of the North, she is in danger of unilaterally ripping out sections of the historic Good Friday Agreement.
The Foyle MLA made the call after the British Supreme Court ruled this morning that whilst the Westminster Parliament will vote on whether or not to notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention of leaving the European Union, the devolved assemblies will not be consulted.
Mr. McCartney warning the British Government is on the verge of unilaterally interfering with the 1998 peace agreement.
“Westminster in pursuit of Brexit may well impose the amendment of the 1998 NI Act which gives legislative authority to the Good Friday Agreement,” he said.
“That Agreement was endorsed with by an overwhelming majority of citizens across the island of Ireland, as well as the Irish and British Governments who are co-guarantors responsible for safeguarding its integrity.
“It is not the unilateral right of the British Government to interfere with the Agreement,” he added.
Mr. McCartney was referring to the fact that under the Good Friday Agreement, which was endorsed by 71.1 per cent of the electorate in North and 94.39 per cent in the South in 1998, London and Dublin agreed to “develop still further the unique relationship between their peoples and the close co-operation between their countries as friendly neighbours and as partners in the European Union”.
Under the North South Ministerial Council (NSMC) the two governments also agreed to “consider the European Union dimension of relevant matters, including the implementation of EU policies and programmes and proposals under consideration in the EU framework. Arrangements to be made to ensure that the views of the Council are taken into account and represented appropriately at relevant EU meetings.”
Mr. McCartney said this can’t just be torn up by the United Kingdom. Dublin also has a role to play, he said.
“The Irish government must fulfil their moral and legal duty to stand up for the rights of all citizens in the North.
“While the Supreme Court ruled against the case that the Assembly should have the right to have its say on Brexit through a legislative consent motion, no court or Government can overrule the democratically expressed wishes of the people here to remain within the EU.
“Sinn Féin want to secure the natural position of the whole island of Ireland within the EU together by designating Special Status to the North within the European Union.
“Last week’s statement by the British Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed her intention for a hard Brexit.
“This in turn means a hard border on the island of Ireland.
“Today’s court judgement cannot and will not prevent that.
“The Good Friday Agreement must be protected by all those who signed up to it.
“There is a particular onus on the Irish Government to take a stand in the forthcoming negotiations with the other EU member states.”