Deirdre Hargey Speech from Rally For Remain Event
Speaking at the Rally For Remain at Belfast City Hall, Mayor Deirdre Hargey said the hard Brexit agenda being pursued by the DUP and Tories has undoubtedly plunged us all into the greatest period of political uncertainty and constitutional challenge for a generation.
Deirdre Hargey said:
“That is reckless and in direct contravention of the democratically expressed will of the majority of people here.
“In that context, there is an onus on progressive and pragmatic parties to represent the wishes of the majority and to defend the progress that has been made in this society.
“That is why we are here today and I am greatly encouraged to see so many people from so many different walks of life.
“It is also precisely what the leaders of Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance and Green Party, have done in the leadership they have shown in defence of the Good Friday Agreement - its primacy in terms of our peace and political process, and the crucial role in plays in maintaining relationships within, and between these islands.
“Our four parties have already signed a joint statement urging the European Union to ensure that any withdrawal agreement protects the Good Friday Agreement in all of its parts, including North/South and East/West co-operation.
“They have restated that message directly to Michel Barnier and the British and Irish Governments.
“The progress we have made is underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement – a legally-binding, international treaty registered with the United Nations and overwhelmingly endorsed by the people of Ireland, North and South.
“The integrity of that agreement is not up for negotiation. It cannot be held to ransom by the Tory-DUP pact.
“Any withdrawal agreement must not undermine that accord. Equally, it must include legally binding protections for citizens in the North and to prevent any return to a hard border.
“The backstop agreed by both the British Government and the EU27 is the bottom line in order to achieve that and safeguard our political and economic stability now and for the future.
“While we may not agree on everything as regards Brexit, there are central issues on which we do and on which we represent the majority of citizens.
“This includes our shared view that the North cannot withstand exclusion from the single market or customs union.
“The hard Brexit being pursued by the DUP and right-wing Brexiteers within the Tory Party threatens to cause irreparable economic and social damage to our island.
“But as on many things – not least equality and the rights of citizens – the DUP do not speak for the majority on Brexit. They’re on the wrong side of the pubic and the wrong side of history.
“Together we must ensure that they do not succeed on this reckless, damaging and unforgivable agenda.”