Belfast Agreement sideline request from British "shocking" - David Cullinane TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Brexit David Cullinane TD has said that it is "outrageous" that the British government asked the Irish government to downplay the threats to the Belfast Agreement in the aftermath of the decision to leave the EU.
Speaking today, Deputy Cullinane said:
"It is deeply shocking that Theresa May's officials actually asked the Irish government to ease off on raising the real and substantial threats to the Good Friday Agreement that have come about because of Brexit.
"These threats are real in terms of the creation of a hard border on the island of Ireland.
"They are also real in terms of human rights legislation and the rights of EU and Irish citizens in the north.
"The Good Friday Agreement - including the bilateral Belfast Agreement - is predicated on rights. That is its cornerstone.
"Yet despite the fact that these rights are guaranteed, the British government wants to exclude the people of the north from access to the European Court of Justice.
"The comments from the British officials shows once again why we need a functioning and fully operable legal guarantee to underpin any backstop arrangement that is put in place.
"It is simply not enough to have a political handshake on this matter.
"The comments also call into question the Taoiseach's rush to declare all pronouncements from Downing Street as 'cast-iron' and 'bullet-proof'.
"Leo Varadkar has shown himself to be politically naive when dealing with the British government.
"All too often he has allowed himself to be used as a photo-op by Theresa May, while dismissing with a wave of his hand any suggestion that he might be best approaching Downing Street in a more cautious and circumspect manner.
"We need real guarantees when it comes to the north and Brexit.
"“There has been a worrying shift in tone from the government over the past two months - from the backstop as a red line to one where it simply forms part of the overall agreement.
“We need clarity on this issue from the government as the backstop is our insurance policy in the event of a no deal Brexit.
“The people of Ireland need to know that both the Irish government and the EU will not allow the British government take the backstop off the table.”