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Gerry Adams TD challenges Government on Brexit

17 January, 2019 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has accused the Irish government of breaking commitments to nationalists in the north and of failing to ensure that specific commitments, in the 2017 December Joint Report for citizens who reside in the north, are contained in the Withdrawal Agreement.

The former Sinn Féin President warned the Taoiseach and Tánaiste that they cannot cherry pick the Good Friday Agreement especially in respect of their opposition to a referendum on Irish unity.

Finally, Gerry Adams challenged the government to spell out clearly and unequivocally that it will not erect customs posts on the border.

Teachta Adams said:

"In December 2017 in the Joint Report produced by the negotiators for the EU and the British Government Paragraph 52 specifically stated that the people of the north, and I quote: 'who are Irish citizens will continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland'.

"The Taoiseach said, that everyone born in the north 'will continue to have the right to Irish and therefore EU citizenship'. 

"He also said that the Joint Report was 'rock-solid, cast iron' and 'politically bullet proof'.

"In response to a letter signed by civic nationalism the Taoiseach assured them that: 'Your birth right as Irish citizens, and therefore as EU citizens, will be protected'. 

"And he added: 'You will never again be left behind by an Irish Government'.

"This was a welcome and very popular commitment. However, many nationalists and republicans in the north now believe that this promise by the Taoiseach and government has been broken.

"The specific commitment to citizens who reside in the north is missing from the Withdrawal Agreement. I have raised this a number of times in this chamber.

"The additional seats allocated by the EU to this state could have been allocated to the north. The government said No."

On the Good Friday Agreement Gerry Adams said:

“The Irish government in its lobby of our EU neighbours on Brexit rightly stressed the centrality of the Good Friday Agreement to the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

"And yet we have the Tánaiste and the Taoiseach repeatedly dismissing a part of that Agreement that is a referendum on Irish Unity. This too is a key provision, an integral part of the Good Friday Agreement.

"At Queens University last week, the Tánaiste chose to claim that any debate on Irish Unity would be “like pouring petrol into a furnace that is already pretty hot.” Once again an Irish government is limiting the rights of citizens to what is tolerable to a section of unionism.

"The Taoiseach and the Tánaiste cannot cherry pick from the Good Friday Agreement. They have a responsibility and a constitutional obligation to promote the goal of Irish Unity and to work to achieve it through democratic dialogue and negotiation.”

On the issue of the two problem parties Gerry Adams said:

“The Taoiseach and Tánaiste also persist in blaming the impasse in the north on what they refer to as the problem parties – Sinn Féin and the DUP.

"While such silliness may be popular with sections of Fine Gael support it serves no purpose in the north, except to annoy nationalists and republicans.

"They will be even more annoyed when they hear the Tánaiste’s ridiculous claim that the British government has always recognised its obligations under the Good Friday Agreement.

"For the record the DUP has set its face against rights for citizens that exist in every other jurisdiction on these islands is the DUP."

And on customs posts the Louth TD said:

“Last week Minister Ross suggested that border checks are inevitable in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Minister Ross is right. Unless of course the government refuses to establish these checks.

"This is a hugely important issue. The government has a responsibility to spell out its position.

"Will the Tánaiste take this opportunity to state clearly and unequivocally that the government will not erect customs posts on the border?"

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