‘British Irish summit welcome – but legal Brexit protections still needed’ – O’Neill
Today’s meeting of the British Irish Intergovernmental Conference is a welcome step but legally-binding measures are required to protect the island of Ireland from Brexit, Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O’Neill has said.
Commenting ahead of today’s meeting between the Irish and British governments in London, she said:
“The meeting of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference is a positive step because that is the correct forum – as set out in the Good Friday Agreement – for both governments to exercise their responsibilities towards equality of treatment and removing the obstacles at the heart of the political crisis in the north.
“The current difficulties in restoring the Executive and the Assembly echo the challenges of 2006.
“Both governments have an obligation under the Good Friday Agreement to make determined efforts to support the re-establishment of the institutions.
“Joint stewardship through the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference must amount to an honest and responsible effort to protect the full, rather than partial implementation of the Good Friday Agreement framework, which offers the best hope of future equality of treatment, mutual respect and prosperity for everyone.
“Sinn Féin has been urging the governments to convene this body for some time and we will continue to press them to honour their responsibilities to past agreements and to the rights of citizens.
“It should also be said that a non-legally binding memorandum of understanding is not going to be enough to protect the island of Ireland from the impact of a reckless British Brexit.
“Brexit, particularly the kind of hard Brexit being pursued by the DUP and Tories, will have a significant impact on the free movement of goods and citizens across the island of Ireland.
“Legally enforceable guarantees – such as those contained within the Withdrawal Agreement and Backstop - are the absolute minimum required to protect against that.”