Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement

Engagement with Ireland's Future

Mr. Niall Murphy:

He is closer to me than he may think. I would welcome the opportunity to discuss our organisation in more detail with representatives from Senator Blaney's party.

On the Senator's more substantive point, we will do all we can, we will speak to anybody anywhere and we are open to any invitation. We have never refused an invitation. As I said, we have undertaken and are undertaking confidential conversations and I hope we will be able to take those conversations into the public sphere.

One concept on which the Senator touched was the issue of fears, concerns and sensitivities. I wholly appreciate that as we step into a new era, we must be genuinely sensitive to people's fears and concerns. That works two ways, however. Some of the irrational, illogical fears the Senator expressed in respect of our organisation might be true of how people in the North sometimes consider that our sensitivities are assessed and managed in the South. In recent months, we have seen Irish citizenship being made a mockery of, with citizens born on this island being told that while they might think they are Irish, they are not and are actually British. That Emma de Souza had to go to court to confirm that and was exposed to great financial jeopardy for asserting that most fundamental principle was a disgrace and a mockery. That happened in court.

We have seen the Good Friday Agreement all but torn up in front of our eyes at the despatch box by a member of Her Majesty's Government when he said the British Government would break international law to do what it wanted. We have seen our rights as European Union citizens discarded against our democratically expressed wishes. We have seen victims of our conflict treated with contempt by the British Government when it tore up the Stormont House Agreement. We have seen our cultural rights being bartered in respect of Acht na Gaeilge, the Irish language Act, in circumstances where that had been agreed by all the political parties in the New Decade, New Approach document. Sensitivities operate in both directions. When one sees the Stormont House Agreement, New Decade, New Approach and the Good Friday Agreement being cherry-picked, à la carte, that is a very difficult position to tolerate.