Monday, 24 September, 2018

Peace in Ireland strongest legacy of the Good Friday Agreement, says Taoiseach

Senator George Mitchell has expressed concerns over the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement Senator George Mitchell has expressed concerns over the impact of Brexit on the Good Friday Agreement
Deanna Wagner | 11 April, 2018, 04:50

The peace deal's explicit rejection of the use or threat of violence, together with its emphasis on the principles of "partnership, equality and mutual respect" as the "basis of relationships" within these islands, has continuing potential to transform society and life for all, the two church leaders stated.

There are more border crossings between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland than there is between the European Union and all of the countries to the east of it.

Lord Hain told the Press Association the shadow global trade secretary was "unbelievably ignorant and irresponsible".

In a joint statement to mark the anniversary, the leaders of the Anglican and Catholic churches in Ireland suggested more work is needed to ensure peace continues.

Noting the aims of the Good Friday Agreement - addressing "contentious political problems in the context of decades of violence, divided communities and enormous suffering and death" - the Primates acknowledged the complexity of the document, adding that it was also controversial in places.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair insists the agreement is still relevant today.

Another key figure in the agreement ex-Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern warned that normal people would pull down any hard border between the republic and the north, and that Brexit was a disaster for Ireland. On the 20th anniversary of the region's seismic peace deal, there are still challenges ahead.

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Meanwhile, Mr Blair described Brexit as a "profound mistake" and warned of challenging consequences.

The shadow global trade secretary said it was "hugely" in the Republic of Ireland's economic interest to make sure there is no external border.

"That is because it is hugely in the Republic of Ireland's economic interest to make sure there is no tariff and no external border there".

He said: 'There would never have been a Good Friday Agreement if there had not been a European Union that helped bring the United Kingdom and Ireland together'. But any practical reinforcement or reminder that a divided Ireland still exists - which would come about with the return of a hard border - will likely irk anyone of a nationalist persuasion. Critiquing negotiation efforts he added that "both Europe and Westminster have been focusing on issues of trade and customs, the piece they are missing is the impact this will have on identity", something the border appears to represent.

Media captionWhat is the Good Friday Agreement? "I absolutely do not".

"The Good Friday Agreement was a defining moment in Irish history which allowed peace to prevail", Corbyn wrote. The spirit of the agreement has been cast aside and the rational, painstaking compromise that brought it to bear is absent either side of the Irish Sea.

However a so-called "hard border" would jeopardise the Good Friday Agreement, which did not foresee the prospect of either country withdrawing from the EU. For Irish communities everywhere - including in my own constituency - the Good Friday Agreement will always embody their hopes for peace and justice. Only then, with all parts of the agreement working properly, we will be in a position to build a Northern Ireland that is fit for the future.