Thursday, 19 May 2022
Ceisteanna ó Cheannairí - Leaders' Questions
The British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, has been accused of saying that a no-deal Brexit in Ireland would only affect a few farmers with turnips in the back of their trucks. Some people might say that is just Tories being Tories, but it does give an insight into the ignorance at the heart of the British bad faith when it comes to Brexit and the North of Ireland. The Good Friday Agreement is shredded and gutted. The Executive has collapsed. This has happened at a time of a cost-of-living crisis and while 44,000 people are currently on housing waiting lists in the North of Ireland, 270,000 people there are on hospital waiting lists for longer than a year and 670,000 people are in poverty in the Six Counties.
This would not be acceptable in any other democratic society in the world. The North-South Ministerial Council, which was one of the reasons nationalists voted for the Good Friday Agreement, has not met for nearly a year. There is now mounting evidence that confirms that British collusion was involved in the multiple killings of Irish people, North and South, but yet the Tories are ploughing ahead with legislation which would indemnify murderers and securocrats responsible for these killings. On the issue of the human right to life, which is a devolved issue under the Good Friday Agreement, today Brandon Lewis will announce the imposition of some of the most extreme law in Europe onto the North of Ireland. This will be done against the will of the people of the North. It will see thousands of lives lost in the North over the coming years.
The Tories and the DUP have totalled the Good Friday Agreement and the democratic rights of the people of the North. The Government is a co-guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement. It is safe to say that the Government is not co-guaranteeing anything at the moment. We believe it is beyond time that the Government fulfil its responsibilities. The Good Friday Agreement is an international treaty. The Government should be exhausting all international legal avenues to see its implementation; it should seek the suspension of MLA salaries while the Executive is suspended; it should harness the full extent of White House and EU power to put pressure on the British Government; it should seek the reconstitution of the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference; it should at this stage be pushing for joint authority while Stormont is collapsed; and it should seek a legally defined role for the Assembly in the North to activate an Irish unity referendum. I welcome the stronger language of the Minister for Foreign Affairs this week. It was a breath of fresh air because the British do not understand subtlety. We also need actions. What actions will the Government take to defend the Good Friday Agreement and the democratic rights of the people of the Six Counties?