Brexit stance by Tories and DUP threaten border communities – Adams
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has given a cautious welcome to the EU’s draft legal text for the Brexit withdrawal agreement which was published on Wednesday and “which would, if implemented, go a considerable way toward protecting border communities”.
In his address to the press conference in Brussels, the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the draft text faithfully reflected the commitments made by the EU and UK in December. He said that: “The backstop [Option C] is the only way to guarantee that the joint commitments will be upheld in all circumstances.”
The Louth TD has also strongly criticised the rejection of the legal text by the British government and the DUP.
Teachta Adams said:
“The British Prime Minister’s rejection of the EU legal text published this week, that ‘No UK prime minister would ever agree to it’, has sent the Brexit process back into crisis. Theresa May’s volte-face on the December agreement, which is the basis of the legal text, along with the strident comments of the DUP and the anti-Good Friday Agreement remarks of leading Brexiteers, means that the Brexit negotiation process has again degenerated into a shambles.
“The potential for a hard border has now been given added momentum by the repeated failure of the British government to spell out its objectives and goals for the Brexit negotiation. The remaining EU 27 states still do not know, only eight months away from the deadline for the end of the negotiations, what new relationship the British government is looking for with the EU.
“In the absence of an overarching agreement between the EU and the British government, the draft legal text accepts that the alignment option contained in the December agreement means that the North shall be ‘considered part of the customs territory of the EU’. It confirms that the North would remain within the customs union and acknowledges the need for many of the elements that go to make up the single market.
“It explicitly states that there should be ‘no diminution of rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity as set out’ in the Good Friday Agreement. The EU Legal text also requires the British government to ‘facilitate’ the work of the North’s Human Rights Commission, the Equality Commission and the Joint Committee of representatives of the Human Rights Commissions North and South. And it definitively demands that the Good Friday Agreement and its subsequent implementation agreements ‘should be protected in all its parts’.
“The Tory Party and their allies in the DUP have shown a marked disregard for the rights and welfare of the people of this island. They have set aside any concern for the peace process or the economy.
“The Irish government carries an onerous responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens on this island, both in relation to Brexit and the future of the Good Friday Agreement.
“If an agreement is reached in the upcoming negotiations between the EU and the British government, it cannot fall short of the line that the legal text this week has drawn in the sand.
“Sinn Féin’s proposal for the North to be designated a special status within the EU is now accepted by the EU. The onus is on the British government to come up with workable alternative solutions that meet the objectives set out in the legal text and which protect the Good Friday Agreement.”