01 Oct 2022

Longford Leader Columnist Mattie Fox: Good Friday Agreement dictates backstop is irreversible

Mattie Fox

Longford Leader columnist, Mattie Fox

I’ve avoided writing anything about the ongoing Brexit talks until now; these are the facts of the Good Friday Agreement.

The Good Friday Agreement was signed on Friday, April 10 1998, after thirty years of conflict in Northern Ireland, and two years of talks and negotiation.

The conflict was caused and went on since the six counties, Derry, Fermanagh, Armagh, Antrim, Monaghan and Down, became separated from the rest of Ireland in the early ‘20’s.

(We won’t get into the reasons why this happened, because everyone knows about Irish/UK history).

It became known as the Good Friday Agreement simply because it was signed finally on Good Friday.

The Good Friday Agreement binds the British Government on several points of law in Northern Ireland, and therefore became a de facto part of the Constitution of the United Kingdom. These are clear undeniable facts.

Also read: Jobs boost in Longford with new 2-year Regional Enterprise Plan for Midlands

After all, Northern Ireland, as Arlene Foster is fond of telling us, is a distinct and legally ratified part of the United Kingdom, and therefore must remain so until parties in Northern Ireland agree otherwise by democratic vote.

Maybe she suddenly feels it’s not, but until she tells us that specifically, we don’t know why she would tear up a sacrosanct Agreement, drafted by US Senator George Mitchell, and signed by Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, with the then President Bill Clinton, among others, signing the front page, or why on earth she would describe it as ‘toxic’.

This while complaining about others ‘calming the rhetoric!’

Perhaps she doesn’t see Tony Blair’s involvement as ternary.

In which case, like much of her commentary, she is wrong.

He was an agreed, mandated, and lawful representative of the British Parliament, and as such a legally binding part of the signing collective of the Good Friday Agreement.

Theresa May quickly changed her tune when David Trimble stepped up to launch a potential case against his government.

The Agreement signed on April 10, 1998, remains in full force.

That agreement, dictates that the backstop is irreversible, unless parties from each independent state declare legally that it may be changed.

That is hardly likely.

Also read: Government already failing at Brexit preparedness

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