The people of the North are being used as pawns in a political game by the British government, Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill has warned.
Representing a clear majority in the Six Counties, four parties opposed to Brexit have called on the Dublin government and the EU to protect the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.
This week, the Tory government continued to push through legislation at Westminster to allow it to break the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and with it, the protocol intended to protect the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. That historic peace deal which saw the Provisional IRA disarm and disband is now set to be overwritten by the current Tory government’s hardline Brexit strategy.
Ms O’Neill said it was “less than 100 days before the end of the transition period and everything is still up in the air”. She said a no-deal was “a very real possibility at this stage”.
“What is the British government strategy in all of this? Are we just being used as pawns in the middle of their negotiations strategy? Either way, this is catastrophic for our economy.”
A motion was passed in the Stormont Assembly on Monday calling on the British government to honour its commitments regarding the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
The motion, put forward by Sinn Féin, was passed with 48 in favour and 36 against. It was supported by the SDLP, Alliance and other smaller parties, but opposed by the DUP and the UUP.
It calls on the London government to ensure the “rigorous and full implementation” of the Irish protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement and “prioritise peace and stability”.
Proposing the motion in the Assembly, Sinn Féin’s Martina Anderson said Britain was “driving a coach and horses through strands one, two and three of the Good Friday Agreement”.
“Britannia waived the rules,” she said. “The protocol was not perfect, it was an ugly compromise but it mitigated the worst impact of Brexit.”
She said British ministers were also looking to ‘light a bonfire’ under hard-won rights of the peace process, and urged the EU and the Dublin government to stand firm in opposition to London’s “increasingly reckless” actions under Prime Minister Boris Johnson.