Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD today came out strongly in defence of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) in the face of the British governments attempts to ride roughshod through it with the Internal Marketing Bill.
Speaking as EU and British government representatives, led by David Frost, begin a round of informal talks in an attempt to move beyond the current impasse on Brexit, Deputy Brady said:
“The reality of the situation, which is one that the British government cannot concede, is that Brexit represents a horrendous political decision. And is one that the ordinary people of both Britain and Ireland will be paying for, for quite some time.
“In the first instance, we need to be crystal clear. The Withdrawal agreement, regardless of what he says to the contrary, is Boris Johnson’s agreement.
“It is an agreement described by the EU as a fair and balance result of the negotiations; and termed by Boris Johnson as a ‘fantastic moment’ and viewed by the British as being ready made to form the basis of a future trade agreement.
“Now the Tories want to tear the Withdrawal Agreement, which has been legally binding since 1 February 2020, asunder, in order to reimagine the Irish Protocol in a fashion that suits Tory tastes.
“What the British want to achieve is a situation where, having left the European Union, they are left to enjoy all the advantages that membership brings, while positioning themselves to reap an unfair trading advantage over EU states through unfettered access to EU markets without cost or responsibility.
“The Irish Protocol places the North under EU law regarding state aid, which has the potential to reach across to Britain in given circumstances. This is anathema to the Tories, and they are determined to get rid of it.
“To do this they are prepared to wreck internationally binding agreements. To deliberately and provocatively break the rule of law, and recklessly endanger peace and stability on the Island of Ireland.
“Conversely, the EU wants to protect the GFA through the Irish Protocol, and to protect member states from predatory British trading practices by insisting on the creation of a level playing field.
“The Internal Market Bill undermines the institutions of the GFA. It side-lines areas of North-South co-operation and co-ordination. A no deal Brexit, which is looking more likely, raises the spectre of a hard border in Ireland.
“It cannot and will not be allowed to happen.
“To many people in Ireland, Brexit has been an abstract affair. This is not the case. The British government is careering down the path to a no-deal Brexit. Which will impact on every person on this island. It is not merely an issue for those in border counties.
“All of us on this island have a responsibility to defend the Good Friday Agreement in order to maintain peace and stability.”