Sinn Féin leader attacks Brexit Britain’s ‘blatant disregard for Ireland and peace process’

Mary Lou McDonald

The President of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald has attacked the British government for a having a “blatant disregard” for Ireland and the need to uphold the Good Friday Agreement that has ensured peace in the North for the last 20 years.

Mrs McDonald made the comments after the former Brexit Secretary David Davis admitted that the UK government had a “blind spot” when it came to Ireland. He accepted that British ministers had failed to understand Ireland’s difficulties over Brexit.

Mrs McDonald said British ministers had more than a “blind spot”. It was more a case of “active hostility”.

Mary Lou McDonald

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme, she said: “The hostility has been absolutely manifest for some time now.

“I would regard the Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg view of the world to be utterly, not blind to Irish interests, but actively hostile to them.

“I don’t think this is a case of blissful ignorance on the part of strong elements of the British establishment.

“I think this is the policy of ‘Britannia rules the waves’ – a harking back to an imperial past.”

The issue has arisen because of the need to avoid hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, which after Brexit, will also be the border between the UK and the EU. The Good Friday Agreement ensures that there will be no hard border as that is seen as an obstacle to peace.

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However, if no trade deal is agreed during negotiations, there will have to be some kind of border to ensure customs checks. Everyone involved wants to avoid a hard border but there is no agreement on how that can be achieved.

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British Prime Minister Theresa May negotiated a deal with the EU that provided for a Northern Ireland backstop, which would mean Northern Ireland largely remaining in the EU customs union if no better way could be found to avoid a hard border.

However, that agreement was overwhelmingly rejected by the British parliament over fears that it would mean the UK being tied to EU regulations indefinitely.

Brexit supporting politicians like Johnson and Mogg believe the problem could be solved by the use of technology, but this has been widely dismissed as impractical.

Both Mogg and Johnson have claimed that the Irish have only rejected the technological solution as a way of preventing the UK leaving the EU.

Such claims have infuriated Irish politicians like McDonald, who said: “They have a blatant disregard for the international obligations under that international agreement (the Good Friday Agreement).”

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