Sinn Fein leader warns Brexit incompatible with N Irish peace accord
McDonald said Brexit was “not compatible” with the 1998 agreement that ended deadly violence and gave devolved government to Northern Ireland. She said the British province must remain in the EU’s single market and customs union when the UK leaves the bloc as planned next March. “We very much believe that is the only way to do it,” she told reporters during her first visit to mainland Britain since taking over from veteran Republican leader Gerry Adams this month. “The reality is that Brexit, whether it is hard or soft, represents a clear and imminent threat to the economic, social and the political functioning of Ireland in its totality.”
British Prime Minister Theresa May, and the pro-Brexit Democratic Union Party (DUP) which props up her minority government in Westminster, have steadfastly ruled out treating Northern Ireland differently from the rest of Britain. But McDonald said Thursday “that’s a matter for them.” She added: “We have red lines too, and my red line is peace, stability and prosperity in Ireland”.
The Sinn Fein leader warned the re-introduction of any kind of border on the island after Brexit must be avoided. “To impose such a measure would be catastrophic in terms of our commerce, in terms of our access to services… in terms of how people live their day to day lives.”
McDonald criticised recent comments by several British lawmakers suggesting the 1998 peace accord — known as the Good Friday Agreement — should be revisited. “That’s a deeply shocking and, in our view, deeply deeply irresponsible position for anybody to take,” she said.
Northern Ireland has been without a devolved government for more than a year after Sinn Fein and the DUP pulled out of a joint executive amid political disagreements. Months of talks, including with British Prime Minister Theresa May this week, have so far failed to bridge their differences.
The Sinn Fein leader said a Northern Irish referendum on reunification of the island — called for under the peace accord only once there are signs of majority support — had been put “up in lights” by Brexit. She called it “an obvious option to be on the table”, and that it would happen within 10 years.
Have your say ! Email you opinion pieces, ideas or corrections at firstname.lastname@example.org