Speaking today in the Dáil, Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald TD called for “a united, all of Oireachtas approach” to the delivery of the New Decade-New Approach Agreement which saw the restoration of the Executive and the political institutions in the north last year.
Teachta McDonald said that the agreement is an opportunity to deliver good government for the north based on equality, accountability and a genuine commitment to real power-sharing.
She said Ministers in the north have demonstrated, through the response to Covid-19, that things can be done in a very different way to what has come before.
However, Teachta McDonald argued that the full implementation of the legacy mechanisms of the Stormont House Agreement and the delivery of an Irish Language Act are key to progressing the New Decade-New Approach Agreement and to ensuring that politics works for everybody.
“The achievement of the Irish protocol in the Brexit withdrawal agreement came about largely because the Oireachtas took a unified position on a matter of national interest. I believe that a similarly unified, all of Oireachtas approach to the delivery of the New Decade-New Approach Agreement is not only necessary but crucial to ensuring a future shaped by cooperation, trust and the fulfilment of agreements made.
“The British Government continues to resist the implementation of the legacy mechanisms agreed under the Stormont House Agreement in 2014. This was to be addressed within the first hundred days of the New Decade-New Approach Agreement.
“Instead the British Government has sought to further undermine and obstruct the implementation of these mechanisms so critical to dealing with the legacy of the past.
“Those who lost loved ones have waited long enough for the truth and for the British government to get its act together. The Irish government must now strongly challenge Downing Street to ensure that the Stormont House mechanisms are implemented fully.
Teachta McDonald also said that progressing legislation on protections for the Irish Language is crucial to the delivery of the vision of the New Decade-New Approach Agreement.
“The official recognition of the Irish language in the north as agreed by the parties will represent an historic step, both practically for Irish speakers and symbolically in terms of parity of esteem for both traditions in the north. It is important that the opportunity is seized to build on this progress. The enactment of Acht na Gaeilge is crucial to realising a society that is truly inclusive and progressive.”
In emphasising her call for a united approach in the Oireachtas, she concluded:
“The New Decade-New Approach Agreement can be the new departure for good government in the north. By really embracing a partnership approach and by implementing outstanding agreements we can make politics work. We can shape an environment in which conversations about the future happen in a spirit of respect and with our eyes firmly set on realising the extraordinary potential of this island.”